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Ford to Shut 2 Plants by End of Year

October 03, 2003|From Associated Press

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. will close plants in Ohio and Michigan by year's end and another in New Jersey in the first quarter of next year as part of its new four-year agreement with the United Auto Workers, the company said Thursday.

Another factory in Ohio will end production during the next four years.

Ford, the world's second-largest automaker, had identified the plants for closing but outlined the timetables during a conference call discussing details of the new contract, which was ratified in the last week by the UAW.

In January 2002, the automaker launched a five-year revitalization plan that called for cutting 35,000 jobs, closing five plants and discontinuing four models.

Ford, which announced more than 7,700 job cuts worldwide this week, is under pressure to meet profit forecasts this year while engaging in a costly U.S. pricing war with General Motors Corp., DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group and others.

During the call with Wall Street analysts and automotive reporters, Ford said it would consolidate production at its assembly plant in Lorain, Ohio, with another in Avon Lake, 17 miles away, during the term of the pact, and that a plant in Hazelwood, Mo., that produces sport utility vehicles would switch to one shift next year. The Lorain plant eventually will be closed.

Those that will close by the end of the year are Cleveland Aluminum Casting and Vulcan Forge in Dearborn, Mich. Edison Assembly in New Jersey will close early next year.

Company spokeswoman Anne Marie Gattari declined to say how many jobs would be eliminated, noting that many workers would be eligible to transfer to other plants. Ford executives said the new contract provided greater flexibility to move workers from one plant to another when a need exists.

When Ford announced its restructuring 20 months ago, the automaker said its goal was to trim 12,000 hourly jobs in North America.

Roman Krygier, Ford's group vice president for manufacturing and quality, said the closings, along with shift reductions, were part of an effort to trim the firm's North American manufacturing capacity by 1 million vehicles.

In trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange, Ford shares fell 8 cents to $11.02.

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