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Published: Tuesday, 6/19/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

UAW predicts total of 1,400 new Jeep jobs

BY TYREL LINKHORN
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
The plant that now makes Jeep Libertys is to be retooled for a new generation vehicle and employees are to be added. The plant that now makes Jeep Libertys is to be retooled for a new generation vehicle and employees are to be added.
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Chrysler Group LLC could create up to 300 more jobs than the automaker announced when it unveiled plans for a second shift at the plant that now makes Jeep Libertys, union officials said.

The final count probably is still more than a week away, but Dan Henneman, Jeep unit chairman for UAW Local 12, said it should be good news for Toledo.

"We could be looking at up to 1,400 jobs," Mr. Henneman said.

When Sergio Marchionne, the chief executive officer of Chrysler and its parent company Fiat SpA, visited Toledo last November to officially announce Chrysler's plan to put $500 million into the Toledo Assembly complex, he said the second shift would bring about 1,100 new jobs to the city.

Mr. Henneman said nothing has changed within Chrysler's plans, but the automaker's announcement of 1,100 wasn't based on actual modeling of job stations.

That's being done now. Mr. Henneman said employment needs are determined by a "digital scroll," which is essentially a simulation of a vehicle moving down the line.

"You determine how many jobs you'll have based on how many cars you'll run an hour," he said.

THE DETAILS
  • Chrysler announced last fall that it would add 1,100 jobs at the Toledo North Assembly Plant, which builds two Jeep products.
  • Union officials say that number could be as high as 1,400.
  • Chrysler now employs about 1,800 hourly workers at the plant.
  • The new jobs are expected to be gin in early 2013. Chrysler is not yet accepting applications.

Under the current contract between the United Auto Workers and Chrysler, new hires start at $15.78 an hour, with increases up to $19.28 an hour by the end of the agreement.

Chrysler spokesman Jodi Tinson said she could not confirm any number of jobs above the 1,100 that was announced last year.

"We haven't even started hiring for the second shift or building the new vehicle, so any speculation on more workers is premature and ill advised," Ms. Tinson wrote in an e-mail.

Chrysler now has about 1,800 hourly employees at the plant, which builds the Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Liberty. An addition of 1,400 would increase that number to about 3,200.

The last current-model Jeep Liberty is scheduled to be built Aug. 16. After that vehicle rolls off the line, the part of the plant in which Libertys are built will shut down for several months as Chrysler upgrades and retools the line for the next-generation Jeep mid-size SUV.

The majority of employees will be laid off during the shutdown, although a few will remain on the job.

Mr. Henneman said line workers are expected to return for training in late March or early April.

Wrangler production will not be affected by the shutdown.

Chrysler is expected to unveil the new model — which may or may not retain the Liberty name — at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.

The automaker is not yet accepting applications for the new jobs. All job seekers must apply through the chryslercareers.com Web site.

Union officials say the company probably will open hiring in the late summer or early fall.

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at: tlinkhorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6134.



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