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Old 12-21-2004, 07:45   #1 (permalink)
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US:Ohio workers deal with reality of Ford plant closing

Ohio workers deal with reality of Ford plant closing

Associated Press

LORAIN, Ohio -- Now that Ford Motor Co. has released more details about its plan to close a van assembly plant here, workers are beginning to deal with the realization that their jobs could be cut.

Ford told employees in June that it will move production of the Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner from its Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake to suburban Kansas City, Mo., in August 2005. It also said it would close its Lorain Assembly Plant and shift production of the plant's Econoline van to the nearby Avon Lake plant by January 2006.

In new details, Ford has told the United Auto Workers union that the Lorain plant's formal closing will be Dec. 23, 2005. The automaker also has asked the union locals at both plants to start negotiating with each other on how their memberships will fare in the consolidation.

"I don't think the reality of it all has hit anyone," said Lester Prados, who has worked at the Lorain plant for 26 years. "Maybe it will begin to sink in after the beginning of the year."

Eventually, all 1,700 jobs in Lorain will be lost. Many of the workers will be able to move to Avon Lake, and when the consolidation is complete, 1,200 jobs in all will have been eliminated from the two plants' combined work force of 3,800, the company said.

Union leaders at each plant are beginning to deal with issues such as which members will keep their jobs, how to decide that and what the workers will be doing.

Some of the answers will depend on how many retirements or buyouts Ford would call for, but it's too early to know those numbers, said Eric Mitchell, a company spokesman.

UAW Local 2000 represents 1,900 workers in Avon Lake and UAW Local 425 represents the workers in Lorain.
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