UAW works to help members affected by Cherokee departure

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TOLEDO (13abc Action News) - It's the end of an automotive era here in Toledo. Thursday is expected to be the last day of Jeep Cherokee production at the Toledo Assembly Complex. Fiat Chrysler is moving production of the SUV to Belvidere, Illinois. Because of that there will be a lot of changes for thousands of workers.

UAW Local 12 held information sessions today to help workers transition.By the end of this week, thousands of people who work at Jeep and suppliers will be temporarily laid off through the fourth quarter, .Hundreds of others are permanently losing their jobs.

The focus of the information sessions is two-fold.One of the goals is to help make sure the workers get unemployment benefits.The other is to help make sure those who are losing their jobs have a good shot at getting a new one.

Marvana Cortland is one of more than 500 people losing their jobs.
She works at a company that supplies the Cherokee plant, "It's very unfortunate, but I feel like with all the new jobs coming along there will be somewhere else for us to go."

Marvana says tomorrow is her last day, "It was kind of traumatizing for some people because they didn't expect it to end so soon. We had signed a contract, and we thought the work would go on for a couple more years, So when it came out of the blue that the Cherokee was leaving,it was very hard for some people."

In spite of the big job loss,union leaders say a big gain is coming to the employment rolls.Bruce Baumhower is the President of UAW Local 12,"There are more than twice as many jobs coming in as there are jobs leaving. There are about 550 job losses and about 1,200 new jobs coming to the community."

The goal for a lot of people at the UAW information sessions is to land one of those new jobs. Tonia Saunders is a Planning and Development Manager for Ohio Means Jobs,"Most people can get an $8-$9 an hour job. We want to connect people to living wage jobs and give them a career path."

Two of the suppliers that will be hiring hundreds of new workers are Dana and Detroit Manufacturing Systems. Saunders says both companies have worked with Ohio Means Jobs on a work ready manufacturing program, "We know exactly what they are looking for. We were able to develop these programs around their needs, and they have a passion to hire people in this community. We developed the work ready program to not just say here's my resume. We are digging deeper and helping people get the jobs."

Baumhower says in the short term the changes at the Toledo Assembly Complex will also hit the city, county and state through taxes,but he says it's important to remember there is a big payoff on the way, "The city, county and state are going to take a big hit over the next 18-24 months with the loss of income and sales taxes. If you look down the road two years from now, we'll be in a lot better shape than today." A lot of people are counting on that.