Jeep workers demand, 'Keep the Fleet', plan demonstration outside Detroit auto show

Published: Jan. 15, 2018 at 4:10 PM EST
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A labor-management relationship that has been the model of the automotive industry is in jeopardy because of a terminal closing.

Fiat-Chrysler of America is laying off 88 workers this month and next.

The United Autoworkers Union isn't giving up without a fight.

Drivers, dispatchers, mechanics will all lose their jobs by the end of February when FCA closes the Toledo terminal on Hagman Road.

But the union believes the company could have prevented that from happening.

At a rally in union headquarters on Ashland Ave. Monday, dozens of Jeep workers stood by their president who wanted FCA to know they could not be pushed around.

UAW Local 12 president, Bruce Baumhower, told the workers the company "reverted back to the old ways they did business. I don't think they want us to revert back to the old ways the we did business."

Back in October, the union says without consulting the UAW, FCA announced it would close the Toledo Terminal facility.

Drivers from the terminal pick up auto parts made around the region and deliver them to Jeep workers in Toledo who put them in vehicles made here.

But by closing the terminal, eighty-eight workers. like Cysco Garza, will lose their jobs.

Garza told 13abc reporter Bill Hormann, "We ran in snow storms. We ran and fetched other material from outside carriers because they wouldn't bring it in. And we kept them running, kept that plant running."

Thirty-years ago, the plant was threatened. But the union and the company worked out wage concessions and route changes to save the jobs.

This time, the company says running trucks out of Toledo is not efficient and will close the facility by February 28th.

Richard Rankin, UAW Regional 2B director said, "We've gotten to the point we're at through cooperation and this isn't our version of cooperation."

Union reps were in Arbor Hills, last week, trying to work out a way to keep the facility open.

But Monday, 16 more layoffs, and a cooperative relationship between the union and the company seems in jeopardy.

Baumhower says, "We could get back to the table and find a solution to this like we always have or we can go back to the old way of doing business that we have not done in 30-years."

The union wants to get the company's attention but it cannot strike.

Yet there are other very visible ways to fight back and that's coming.

There are two more rounds of layoffs coming in the next 45 days.

Baumhower explained Wednesday that the union plans to demonstrate outside the North American International Auto Show on Sunday. Union members will fill five buses and head to Detroit around 9:00am on Sunday. They say this isn't a protest or boycott of the auto show. The demonstrators will attend the auto show afterwards.

"Basically just send a message to FCA that your team up in Auburn Hills has been unreasonable in dealing with what Sergio has called the best workforce he's ever seen," says Baumhower.

Baumhower says this isn't a big fight. He says the union thinks the company needs to discuss why they want to eliminate the fleet.

"We've met with Chrysler twice now on this issue and both times they've told us the ship has sailed, that it's a done deal, that it's too late. We reminded them that they have an obligation to bargain this with us."

Baumhower says the union has requested documents from the company but have not been given any.

FCA spokesperson, Jodi Tinson, sent 13abc this statement from the company, which reads in full: "FCAUS has been in discussions with the UAW for over two years and will continue to work with the union to find placement opportunities for any impacted employees."