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Jobs campaign having an effect, backers claim

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Local 12 president Bruce Baumhower touts the Toledo Loves Jeep effort near a new billboard at Monroe and 11th Streets.

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Amid a letter-writing campaign, thousands of yard signs sprinkled around metro Toledo, and now billboards, backers said a campaign to convince DaimlerChrysler AG to bring auto jobs to the Toledo Jeep Assembly Plant "is getting their attention."

The car maker is negotiating with at least three parts suppliers with local ties that hadn't previously been in the running to supply parts for current and planned models at the automaker's Toledo Jeep complex, said Bruce Baumhower, campaign leader and president of Local 12, United Auto Workers.

Mr. Baumhower made the remarks yesterday at the unveiling of the Toledo Loves Jeep 2 campaign's first billboard at Monroe and 11th streets in downtown Toledo. Another billboard went up on Stickney Avenue, near the factories that produce most of Chrysler's Jeep models.

The billboards will stay indefinitely, said Mark Pietrowski, of Lamar Advertising, which is donating the space.

Dave Elshoff, a spokesman for DaimlerChrysler in Auburn Hills, Mich., said he was unfamiliar with which suppliers the firm is negotiating. The firm has yet to award contracts, but is "getting close," he added.

Campaign organizers have distributed 5,000 yard signs - which substitute a heart for the word "love," - and have received requests for another 2,000, Mr. Baumhower said.

Through the campaign, two local firms that previously have done no Chrysler work have sought and gotten vendor numbers necessary to bid on Daimler work, the union leader added.

The campaign seeks to repeat the success of a similar union-community campaign in the mid-1990s that convinced the auto manufacturer to replace a World War I-era plant with a state-of-the art facility in Toledo.

The latest campaign was launched by Mr. Baumhower after he got an advance look at firms in the running for parts contracts for existing and future Toledo Jeep models. He was troubled by the absence of metro Toledo firms and non-local firms with operations in the area.

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