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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Rouge: Ford cars or no spot in the lot

The truck factory, which hosts tours, is the automaker's only plant to set rule for workers.

Bryce G. Hoffman / The Detroit News

About Dearborn Truck
Product: Ford F-150 pickup
Employees: 2,600 hourly; 200 salaried
Opened: 2004
Notable facts: Features a "living roof" with grass and is open to public tours

View the sign:

DEARBORN -- Plant manager Rob Webber delivered a blunt message to workers at Ford Motor Co.'s Dearborn Truck factory this week: If you work at Ford, you better drive a Ford. Otherwise, park across the street and walk.

The new policy at Dearborn Truck, the modern centerpiece of the famed Rouge industrial complex and the site of popular factory tours, comes as Ford officials have been exhorting workers to rally behind the automaker's massive turnaround effort.

Losing money and sales in North America, Ford on Monday announced plans to close as many as 14 plants and cut up to 30,000 blue-collar workers.

"It was something this plant manager took upon himself. It's not a companywide policy," said Ford spokeswoman Anne Marie Gattari, adding that Ford supported the decision, which was made in consultation with local union leaders.

Beginning next Wednesday, only vehicles manufactured by Ford or one of its subsidiaries can be parked on the plant site. Employees in non-Ford vehicles can still park in the employee lot across Miller Road and walk to the factory, Gattari said.

'Everybody's in this together'

Jerry Sullivan, president of United Auto Workers Local 600, which represents some 2,600 workers at the plant, said both the union and the company wanted to get people's attention.

"Everybody's in this together. (We need) to buy the products we make and support the company," Sullivan said. "This is a good place to start."

The UAW has a history of banning vehicles manufactured by Asian and European automakers from union hall parking lots -- particularly during recessionary periods.

But Harley Shaiken, a labor expert at the University of California-Berkeley, said this is the first time he has ever heard of either the union or an auto company moving to ban all competing products.

"When imports were banned, the notion was that you were supporting other autoworkers around the country," he said. "These are very troubled times. Autoworkers in general, and at Ford in particular, want to protect their own jobs."

Shaiken said he would not be surprised to see similar actions taken at other Big Three plants. General Motors Corp.'s Warren Technical Center has separate lots for non-GM vehicles.

Non-Ford cars defaced

In recent years, the UAW has put handbills on non-Ford vehicles -- and even on some vehicles made by Ford's Volvo, Land Rover and Jaguar units -- that were parked at the company's world headquarters in Dearborn.

Land Rover, Volvo and other foreign vehicles also have been vandalized while parked at the automaker's Dearborn operations.

The new ban at Ford's Dearborn Truck plant applies to both salaried and hourly workers with permits to park on site. About 15 percent of the 2,800 employees who work at Dearborn Truck have such permits.

The decision to bar non-Ford products from the plant site was announced during a town hall meeting at the factory convened to discuss the automaker's latest restructuring plan. "The place erupted in applause," Gattari said.

Workers differ on ban

But not everyone was clapping.

"They can't tell you how to spend your money," said one veteran skilled tradesman who did not wish to be identified out of fear of retaliation. "It's still a free country."

He drives vehicles manufactured by DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group because he can get a better deal on them. "I gotta go where I can get the most bang for my buck," the worker said.

Now, he plans to borrow a Ford vehicle before the ban goes into effect.

Other workers said they see the logic behind the ban.

"You buy what you build," said Dearborn Truck worker Rufus McWilliams. "That only makes sense."

While Dearborn Truck is the only Ford facility to impose such a ban so far, workers at some other plants said they would welcome similar rules.

The Dearborn Truck plant opened in 2004 as Ford was celebrating its 100-year anniversary. It was build as part of a $2 billion renovation of the Rouge facility and is considered a model of manufacturing efficiency, flexibility and environmentally friendly technology.

About 150,000 people a year visit the factory on tours operated by The Henry Ford museum.

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7,738 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Ford parking edict spreads across U.S.

Workers rally behind effort as Dearborn ban catches on

Bryce G. Hoffman / The Detroit News

Restricted parking
The Ford facilities that restrict parking privileges for workers who drive non-Ford products include:
Rouge complex (Dearborn
Chicago Stamping Plant
Chicago Assembly Plant
Norfolk Assembly Plant* (Norfolk, Va.)
Woodhaven Stamping Plant (Woodhaven)
Van **** Transmission Plant (Sterling Heights)
Kansas City Assembly (Claycomo, Mo.)
Batavia Transmission LLC (Batavia, Ohio)
Ford plants considering similar rules include:
Michigan Truck Plant (Wayne
Louisville Assembly Plant (Louisville, Ky.)
Ohio Assembly Plant (Avon Lake, Ohio)
* For salaried only; hourly lot is divided between UAW and non-UAW made vehicles.
Source: Ford Motor Co.

-- Ford Motor Co. is drawing a line in the asphalt.

After the company's Dearborn Truck plant exiled non-Ford vehicles to the far side of the parking lot, similar restrictions are being enforced at Ford factories around the country.

Chevrolets, Toyotas and anything else not built by Ford or one of its subsidiaries are no longer welcome in the prime parking areas at Batavia Transmission LLC in Ohio, Woodhaven Stamping or at any of the factories in Ford's Rouge complex. Similar policies are being considered at the Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake and the Louisville Assembly Plant in Kentucky.

"The majority of our plants now have such parking policies," said Ford spokeswoman Anne Marie Gattari, adding that many of these rules had been on the books at plants but were ignored.

"What Dearborn Truck has done has reignited the enforcement of those policies," Gattari said.

While the parking rules may not make a major impact on Ford's flagging sales, they show workers are rallying behind the automaker's effort to stop its market share slide and stanch North American losses.

Ford says plant management and union leadership have worked together on the parking restrictions.

Rob Webber, the manager of the Dearborn Truck plant, announced the new parking rules Jan. 23. Word of the rules spread to other plans through local and national news reports.

The day after learning about Dearborn Truck, security at Ford's Kansas City Assembly Plant in Missouri began enforcing an existing ban on non-Ford vehicles in its prime parking areas. According to UAW Local 249, which represents workers at the plant, the company will place a sticker on any car or truck parked in those areas reserved for only Ford vehicles and record the license plate number. If those workers park in the Ford areas a second time, their vehicles will be towed.

"Ford is serious," said Jim Stoufer, the local's president. "We support buying Ford products. It's our livelihood. It's going to be a fight for survival."

However, he said the union would like to see the ban applied to all foreign-made vehicles, including foreign brands owned by Ford such as Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo. Since Ford owns controlling interest in Japan's Mazda Motor Co., its vehicles also are exempt at most facilities.

"The union's stance is union-made, American-made," Stoufer said, noting that only American-made cars and trucks can park at the union hall. "We don't want to tell our members they can't buy another vehicle that's made by the UAW."

Similar rules are under consideration at other Ford plants, including the Michigan Truck Plant in Wayne and the Louisville Assembly Plant.

Gattari stressed that there still is no official, corporatewide policy dictating where non-Ford vehicles should be parked. "It's truly a grassroots initiative," she said.

Parking restrictions at Dearborn Truck also have spread to the rest of Ford's famed Rouge complex, where his factory is located. He is happy to see the campaign to get Ford employees to buy what they build grow, adding that most of the workers at the Rouge are enthusiastic about it.

"Ford employees are definitely fighting back," Webber said.

But not everyone at the Rouge is applauding the new restrictions. Rex Nagy, a veteran skilled trade worker at Dearborn Truck, says he has taken to driving his son's Ford F-150 pickup to work because the rules require him to park his Chrysler in the back of the lot.

Nagy said he bought a Chrysler because he got a better deal through a relative who works for DaimlerChrysler AG, adding that Ford should not tell him how to spend his money.

"It's kind of hard to swallow," he said.

Another Rouge worker said she thought the restrictions should only apply to imports. "We need to support all our union brothers," said the worker, who would only give her first name, Lisa. She pointed out that many Ford workers in Michigan have spouses who work for other automakers. She added that many of Ford's products, such as new Fusion sedan, are manufactured in Mexico.

The parking rules at most Ford factories require non-Ford vehicles to be parked in restricted areas, either in separate lots or in less desirable areas of their main lots.

The rules are nothing new to workers at Ford's Van **** Transmission Plant in Sterling Heights.

"We put it into affect a few months ago," said Frank Turoski, president of UAW Local 2280, which represents workers at the plant. "People were complaining. They wanted it."

Turoski said the parking restrictions were negotiated as part of the last local operating contract, but were not enforced until last year.

"It's not a real big deterrent," Turoski said, noting that workers who drive non-Ford vehicles only have to walk a few hundred feet more than those who drive Ford products. But it does send a message, one he heartily endorses.

"Where you work," he said, "you should buy the product."
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