AVON LAKE — At the same time Ford Motor Co. and national negotiators from the United Auto Workers were trying to hash out a contract, Chrysler, which had just concluded negotiations announced a plan to cut as many as 12,000 jobs.
Tim Donovan, president of the UAW Local 2000 representing workers at the Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake, said Chrysler’s announcement certainly sparked concern, but it is not necessarily indicative of what the future will hold for Ford workers.
“We’re always concerned about people losing jobs as should everyone in this country,” he said. “The American auto industry as a whole is in trouble because there is a common misconception that foreign cars are better than American-made cars. Still, (at the Avon Lake plant) we have plenty of orders and are up to full production.”
The Avon Lake plant produces Ford’s Econoline van, which saw its sales drop for the month of October. Last month, 12,013 fewer of the vans were sold than in October 2006 — a 35 percent drop. Overall this year, Econoline sales are down 6 percent, according to Ford sales figures.
In other sales figures announced Thursday, Ford said that while total sales for the company were down 10 percent — which it blamed primarily on a plan to reduce its sales to daily rental companies — its new crossover vehicles are selling well, outpacing the competition in October.
Donovan would not discuss speculation that the future of the Avon Lake plant hinges on the union making concessions at the negotiating table.
The Detroit News, citing unnamed sources, reported that Ford officials have pledged to keep open some plants — the Avon Lake plant was cited as one of them — if the national union signs off on some of the cost-cutting measures the company has proposed.
The Chrysler announcement was a surprise, coming less than a week after union workers represented by the UAW ratified a new four-year contract with company.
The cuts include 8,500 to 10,000 hourly jobs and 2,100 salaried jobs to be made through 2008. Chrysler said Thursday the plan to cut up to 15 percent of its work force is needed to slash costs and match slowing demand for some vehicles.
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