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US:Ford's Auto Workers Protest Decision for Mexico Plant To Build New Ford Line

Ford's Auto Workers Protest Decision for Mexico Plant To Build New Ford Line for U.S.

The Auto Channel

DEARBORN, Mich. Reuters reported that hundreds of auto workers demonstrated outside Ford Motor Co.'s corporate headquarters on Friday to protest against its plans to build a new line of mid-size passenger cars in Mexico instead of the United States.

It was a sign of the times in Detroit where the Big Three automakers, faced with mushrooming U.S. health-care and retiree costs, have been shipping an increasing amount of factory work to low-cost labor centers overseas.

Police in Dearborn, the Detroit suburb from which Ford runs its global operations, estimated that as many as 600 members of the United Auto Workers union braved bone-chilling, 12-degree (Fahrenheit) temperatures to join in the protest.

It was the first in recent memory to put disgruntled members of the UAW on the doorstep of "The Glass House," as Ford's headquarters is known.

Led by union activists with bullhorns, they chanted slogans like "hey, hey, ho, ho -- we want jobs not Mexico" and "No Lincolns built in Mexico -- hell no!"

Many of the protesters were from UAW Local 36. It staged the picket because, even as Ford is ramping up production of its new cars in Mexico, the union suspects it is also planning to shut down an assembly plant it operates in Wixom, Michigan.

The fears were prompted by the fact that the plant -- where two shifts of assembly-line work were cut back to one in 2002 -- builds models including the Lincoln LS sedan and Ford Thunderbird that have been hit by declining sales.

Production of the Thunderbird is expected to be phased out next year and with no new product for Wixom -- which Local 36 President Dave Berry said had lost 55 percent of its hourly work force since 2002 -- its future is in doubt, UAW officials said.

"We're not aware of any new products at this time," Berry said.

"We need to save American jobs," he told Reuters. "Our goal is to keep the American jobs here."

The new mid-size cars built at Ford's assembly plant in Hermosillo, in the northern Mexican state of Sonora, include the Ford Fusion, a mass-market model aimed at competing with Toyota Motor Corp.'s Camry, America's best-selling car.

Sister vehicles for Ford's struggling Lincoln-Mercury division will also be built in Hermosillo and will start making their debut on the U.S. market later this year.

Ford's Chief Operating Officer Jim Padilla, when asked about the future of Wixom earlier this week, said the company had "a big obligation" to look after its employees. He declined further comment, however, except to say that Ford does not discuss its long-term production plans.

"They're going to be, for the foreseeable future, producing the product that we have there," Padilla said of Wixom's blue-collar workers.

My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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