October 23, 2014

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Union proposes layoff alternatives to Ford leadership

Union officials have proposed a number of alternatives to blunt planned layoffs in August at Ford’s Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

Union officials have proposed a number of alternatives to blunt planned layoffs in August at Ford’s Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

Local United Auto Workers officials are working with Ford Motor Co. to lessen the impact of layoffs at the Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake, which will affect about 900 employees.

The union has remained tight-lipped about its negotiations with the company, but a letter from Ohio Assembly Plant Manager Jeff Carrier to UAW Chairman Tim Rowe said plant and senior company leadership are evaluating various options proposed by the union.

Among the options considered, Ford is looking at using temporary layoffs and a rotation of shifts, instead of the indefinite layoffs that were announced Jan. 13, according to the letter, a copy of which was acquired by The Chronicle-Telegram. Ford is also considering a redistribution of manpower and may offer retirement packages to the affected workforce, the letter suggests.

Union officials have not returned repeated calls for comment. In his letter to the union membership, Rowe urges members not to talk to the media about the situation. He said discussing the issue “complicates matters and impedes the progress among parties that have a true impact on the final outcome.”

Mary Springowski, a UAW team leader at the plant, previously has told The Chronicle that employees were blindsided by the layoffs, which weren’t mentioned during a rank-and-file meeting the day before they were announced.

Local government officials said they have heard only speculation about the future of the plant and were waiting to hear from Ford officials this week.

Michael Donovan, a UAW bargaining representative, wrote to employees that he asked Rowe to set up a town hall meeting with union membership to address concerns but that request was denied.

Donovan was unable to be reached Thursday, and Rowe did not return a call for comment.

The layoffs, which are scheduled to occur in August, will affect workers with 22 or fewer years of experience. They will occur during a retooling of the plant for the launch of the F-650 and F-750, scheduled for the second quarter of 2015.

Avon Lake Mayor Greg Zilka said the city stands to lose about $400,000 in income tax revenue this year due to the layoffs. The city is already feeling the squeeze from the devaluation of NRG Energy Plant, which is expected to create a loss of $158,000 in tax revenue this year.

“We’re hoping that things will stabilize and that they’ll negotiate with the union,” he said.

Because the plant straddles Sheffield and Sheffield Lake, those communities could see a loss as well.

Sheffield Mayor John Hunter said if the employees aren’t hired back, the village stands to lose $175,000 to $200,000 in income tax revenue from August, when the layoffs go into effect, to June 2015.

Hunter said he doesn’t expect any issues, however.

“I’ve got confidence in Ford and UAW that they’re going to do what’s best for the plant and those employees,” he said.

Donovan is also optimistic, according to his letter.

He wrote that several studies are being performed at the Ohio Assembly Plant to determine the feasibility of placing additional products at the location. He encouraged workers to maintain a positive attitude.

“I am confident that because of our amazing and dedicated workforce, at least one of these studies will become a reality,” he wrote. “Therefore, in my honest opinion, I believe that the long term future of the Ohio Assembly Plant is very bright.”

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @ChelseaMillerCT.


  • toolman50

    I doubt that Ford will deviate much from their initial plans. The fact is, it doesn’t take as many people to assemble the F-650/750, along with the E-Series cutaway as it does to build a full-size E-Series van. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the F-650/750 is a low-volume unit. Ford sold 8,682 of these in 2013. That’s way short of the 125,356 total E-Series units (including cutaways) sold last year. Ford has built the F-650/750 down in Mexico for years and knows exactly how many workers it takes to assemble it. Once the Kansas City Plant is online producing the new Transit in March, they will have a cutaway version of that as well and, over time, will likely replace the E-Series cutaway made here.
    As far as alternating shifts, I doubt that will happen either. It’s much easier and economical for the company to run just a single shift. There would be too much chaos regarding unemployment benefits and Sub-Pay with alternating shifts. The remaining employees have had numerous opportunities over the years to retire, transfer, or quit. It will be entirely up to Ford if they wish to offer these packages again. Remember also that the Walton Hills Stamping Plant will close upon the completion of the van production at Ohio Assembly, impacting the 400 workers there.

  • stop ur whining part deux

    Tooooo Little…..TOOOO LATE

  • John Boy

    I hope they can find a way to help the workers keep their jobs, but it’s very interesting to watch the “politics” already happening within the union. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of the people who have their name mentioned running for office within the union the next election cycle. Watch out Rowe people are gunning for your job.

  • Wanda see

    My father worked at Lorain Ford for over 30 years. He refused to get my brothers jobs at Ford because he said it would not last. Why? union greed. Guess my father was right

    • Bob Owens

      So did your dad reject his union pay and benefits and pension? I doubt it.

      • John Boy

        I have no idea how the union is now, but I had multiple family members retire from the Avon Lake plant and the union caused a lot of damage to the people it represents. I wish the workers well and hope they can continue to keep their job, but you need can’t have the union vs. Ford and expect to come out a winner in today’s world. For the union to be successful they need to make sure Ford is successful and build a successful partnership of the two. Good luck Ford workers.

        • Tommy Peel

          When a company changes the union doesn’t control the change, but they try to counter-act with the change and do whats best for the members that they represent.

          • John Boy

            The short term of “whats best for the members they represent” is what has gotten them in this position. If they would have realized what is best for Ford is also what is best for them as well they might not be in this position.

          • Tommy Peel

            The union can’t tell ford when and how to restructer their plant. The main concern is trying to lesson the damage the workers will face. It seems that Ford and the union have a good working relationship.

        • Bob Owens

          And once again, did they forgo their union pay and benefits and pensions?

          • Simon Jester

            That would be stupid. Dues were compulsory, even if one didn’t agree with the union.

            IE= If you want to work at Ford, you join that bunch of Socialists known as the UAW.

            Ask any teacher how that works.

          • Bob Owens

            Thank the socialist union for the five day work week, overtime pay, sick days. Obviously you weren’t paying attention.

          • John Boy

            What does a corrupt union have to do with forgoing benefits and pensions?
            I have one for you, why did the union collect dues from PTP employees that they didn’t/wouldn’t represent?

          • Bob Owens

            if all these people were so unhappy with the wages and benefits they could easily leave. You’re suffering from envy.

          • Simon Jester

            And you’re a soon to be extinct breed of overpaid labor, that seems to think that by merit of it’s nationality and union membership, should be paid more than Mexicans or Koreans for bolting cars together.

            Envy indeed. Ford paid well, but they’ve realized that they don’t have to put up with the UAW to make a product people will still buy.

          • Bob Owens

            What does nationality have to do with anything? You’re jealous. Maybe if you got one of dem union jobs you could move out of your doudle wide and BUY your own food.

          • Simon Jester

            The part where Ford builds vehicles in Mexico…

            And get bent, the only time I’ve take the .gov’s money is when serving in the military. Which I spent on a Honda.