TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) _ Workers at the Jeep plant that builds the strong selling Liberty have given notice that they are willing to strike over health, safety and job concerns.

The workers overwhelmingly voted Tuesday to give the United Auto Workers authority to call a strike, but the union said it was unlikely there would a walkout soon. The plant employs about 3,900 workers.

The authorization gives the union a 60-day period to negotiate with DaimlerChrysler AG over health and safety concerns at the plant that opened in April, said Nick Vuich, UAW Local 12 chairman at the plant.

About 88 percent of the workers who voted were in favor of the strike authorization, Vuich said.

Union leaders won't call for a strike unless the company refuses to negotiate, Vuich said.

Workers are upset that they are working long hours when hundreds of others are laid off. About 1,720 of 5,650 workers were laid off from the plant this summer after the automaker stopped making the Cherokee and slowed down Wrangler production.

Employees have been working 10-hour days and several Saturdays each month. The union has been pushing DaimlerChrysler AG to add a third shift at the plant.

DaimlerChrysler spokesman Trevor Hale said that in terms of health and safety, the Toledo plant is one of the company's best. It is also the only plant that makes the Jeep Liberty.

DaimlerChrysler has said it doesn't want to add a third shift yet because of uncertainty in the job market and that it doesn't want to be forced to cancel the extra shift if demand wanes.

So far, Liberty sales have been strong. The new $750 million plant has made more than 100,000 of the sport-utility vehicles.

The highly automated plant needs far fewer workers than a much older plant where the Cherokee and Wrangler were built.


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