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Article published June 5, 2009

Jeep employees may be called back soon

According to union officials, the Toledo Jeep Assembly complex will be running again on June 29. Chrysler officials say the date is uncertain.

Union officials at the Toledo Jeep Assembly complex said yesterday they have been notified that the facility - idled since Chrysler LLC went into bankruptcy on April 30 - will reopen June 29.

Its 2,000 laid-off employees will be called back to work.

However, a Chrysler spokesman said yesterday that the call-back date is premature because legal proceedings in the automaker's bankruptcy are ongoing and "anything can happen."

The factories which manufacture the Jeep Wrangler are to return with two shifts of workers that day, while the adjacent plant which builds the Jeep Liberty and Dodge Nitro will return with one shift.

Dan Henneman, Jeep unit chairman for United Auto Workers Local 12, said team leaders in the plants and union officials are to return to the plant over the next two weeks to undergo extensive training in the manufacturing system used by Fiat SpA.

"It's a whole new way of operating," Mr. Henneman said. Like the one used by rival Toyota Motor Corp., Fiat's manufacturing system promotes continuous improvement and elimination of waste.

A spokesman for UAW Local 1435, which represents workers at Chrysler's Toledo Machining Plant in Perrysburg Township, was unavailable yesterday.

A company spokesman would not comment on when the plant would reopen.

It has about 1,300 people who make torque converters and steering columns for several vehicles.

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