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Thursday, September 18, 2003

Ford negotiates closure of van plant

Shuttering of Lorain assembly part of proposal with UAW

By Mark Truby / The Detroit News

DEARBORN -- Ford Motor Co.'s full-size van plant in Lorain, Ohio, appears to be the loser in a high-stakes game of give-and-take between the automaker and the United Auto Workers union.
People familiar with the matter said Ford negotiated the closure of the Lorain plant as part of the tentative labor agreement the company reached with the UAW this week.

The contract is not final until it is ratified by the UAW's membership.

A Ford spokesman declined to comment on the matter. Officials at Local 425 in Lorain could not be reached for comment late Wednesday.

Ford announced in January 2002 that it planned to close assembly plants in Hazelwood, Mo., and Edison, N.J., along with two small parts plants. During negotiations, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger fought hard to prevent the closure of the Hazelwood plant, which builds Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer sport utility vehicles, the people said. State and local officials in Missouri also began preparing a lucrative tax incentive package to entice Ford to keep the factory open.

Ford has put plans to close the Missouri assembly plant on hold as it weighs the incentive package, according to people familiar with matter. If the Hazelwood factory remains open, Ford is likely to eliminate one of the plant's two production shifts, the people said.

With the closure of the Missouri plant off the table, Ford and the UAW negotiated the shutdown of the Lorain plant, the people said. The Lorain operations are likely to be consolidated at Ford's Ohio assembly plant in Avon Lake.

Ford currently builds bodies for the Econoline van in Avon Lake and ships them to Lorain, where the vans undergo final assembly and are painted.

You can reach Mark Truby at (313) 222-2082 or [email protected]
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Ford puts Missouri plant closing on hold

Company, government work on package for St. Louis facility

By Mark Truby / The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co., after wrapping up contract negotiations with the United Auto Workers, has put on hold plans to close its massive Ford Explorer plant in Hazelwood, Mo., by mid-decade, people familiar with the matter said.

In January 2002, Ford announced plans to shutter the Hazelwood plant near St. Louis, a pickup truck plant in Edison, N.J., and two smaller parts plants. The closings are part of a turnaround plan designed to produce $6 billion in annual pretax profit by 2006.

Ford Chairman and CEO Bill Ford Jr. said the tentative agreement reached Monday between Ford and the UAW would not adversely impact the turnaround plan, but declined to be more specific.

The glimmer of hope for the factory that produces Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer sport utility vehicles emerged during the national labor talks between Ford and the UAW, according to a senior official close to the bargaining.

For the moment, Ford has tabled the decision to close the Hazelwood plant by mid-decade and will weigh a tax incentive package that is being prepared by state and local officials in Missouri, the source said.

The Ford-Hazelwood Task Force, appointed by Missouri Gov. Bob Holden after Ford announced plans to close the factory, is crafting a package to keep it open.

"I am encouraged by the negotiations between the UAW and Ford," Holden said in a statement Tuesday. "I am cautiously optimistic that working with our local partners, including the Ford Hazelwood Task Force, we can succeed in keeping these outstanding Missouri workers on the job."

The task force has created a business enterprise zone and is working on a tax incentive package. In June, Holden signed a bill containing tax breaks, job-training incentives and other enticements for Ford.

On Tuesday, task force chairman Patrick McKeehan said he was "anxiously awaiting" news from Ford or the UAW.

"We are hoping for a good result but preparing for the worst," McKeehan said.

About 2,600 workers are employed at the plant, which opened in 1948. Local union officials have yet to receive an update on the plant's future from UAW International representatives, said Ken Dearing, president of Local 325 in Hazelwood.

"We know the state has been working hard," Dearing said. "We just don't know what will happen."

Larry Senyard, Local 325's secretary-treasurer, said he believes the Hazelwood assembly plant will remain open.

"Ford announced we were getting closed two years ago and the media just keeps repeating it," Senyard said. "A lot has changed since then. I don't think we will be closed."

Ford spokeswoman Anne Marie Gattari declined comment.

You can reach Mark Truby at (313) 222-2082 or [email protected]
 

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My Dad works at the plant close to that, the one in Avon Lake, Ohio. He hasn't said a word about that plant closing. Hmmm...thats intersting.
His plant used to provide parts to that plant but now they make the Escapes and my Dad's plant.
 

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Yes I know I meant Hazelwood, Mo.
 
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