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Jeep Workers Rally To Keep Plant Open

March 17, 1986

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) _ United Auto Workers members say Jeep’s home is here and they want American Motors Corp. to keep it that way.

″We can only go into this with a great deal of hope. ...We were born here and we’d like to stay here,″ said Jeep worker Art Schroeder, one of several hundred people who marched through downtown and rallied Sunday in an effort to persuade AMC to keep its Jeep plant open.

AMC has said it will close its auto plant in Kenosha, Wis., and build a new one elsewhere. The company has said it might close the aging Jeep plant and build those vehicles at the new plant.

″There is no guarantee that we will go with the plant if it does. There is nothing solid we can rely on. Also, it’s almost a family thing,″ said Schroeder, who said he has worked at the plant for nine years. ″The Jeep line goes way back. It goes back to our grandfathers.″

Shannon LaCourse, 13, whose parents work at Jeep, read a letter she wrote to AMC officials.

″If they close the plant my mother and father will lose their jobs. I think the Jeep plant is the heart of our community,″ the letter said.

Besides Ohio, about five states are wooing AMC for the new plant. Ohio Department of Development officials recently presented AMC with a package of incentives to keep the plant here.

AMC has said it will decide this spring where to build the plant.

Jeep employs about 7,000 workers here, where the vehicles have been built for more than 40 years. The plant was built in the early 1900s.

Jeep worker Harry Mangold said workers feel that AMC does not care about them.

″Sometimes the workers feel they are right in the middle - the company don’t care and the union don’t care,″ said Mangold, who said he has worked at the plant for three years.

″I think it’s a scare tactic. The affect on the whole city if they go out - 7,000 workers. Do you know how much they generate, not only in sales, but in taxes, too?″

The plant generates more than $60 million a year in taxes to Toledo and Lucas County.

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