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Published: 12/3/2008

At Toledo rally, Chrysler executive urges community support for federal aid for auto industry

JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner listens as Tom LaSorda speaks. Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner listens as Tom LaSorda speaks.
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Chrysler LLC vice chairman Tom LaSorda, left, and Jeep worker Gary Stephens of Lambertville discuss the bailout plan. Chrysler LLC vice chairman Tom LaSorda, left, and Jeep worker Gary Stephens of Lambertville discuss the bailout plan.
THE BLADE/DAVE ZAPOTOSKY Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Flanked by a Jeep Wrangler assembly line and nearly 300 hourly workers, Chrysler LLC Vice Chairman Tom LaSorda, along with elected officials and others, staged a rally inside the Toledo Jeep Assembly complex Wednesday on behalf of the sagging U.S. auto industry.

Calling on plant workers to contact Ohio s Congressional delegation and urge its members to support the domestic auto industry s request for $34 billion in aid, Mr. LaSorda said lawmakers need to understand that Chrysler, Ford Motor Co., and General Motors Corp. aren t asking for a handout.

Let s be clear, we re asking for a loan, and we re going to pay it back, he said. Automakers need money now, during a time of strained cash flow due to stagnant sales, in order to fund daily operations and new product development, he explained.

Chrysler plans 24 major product launches between 2009 and 2012, including a Jeep EV (electric vehicle) that will be built in Toledo, he said. But without loans to see it through, the industry s survival and the communities it supports are in doubt, Mr. LaSorda said.

We are talking about neighborhood streets and auto plant streets. This is where the true work begins, he said. This isn t about Joe the plumber. This is about Joe and Josephine the autoworker.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com



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