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Holiefield: 'An important day for the future'

DETROIT, Mich. – Chrysler LLC’s $1.8-billion investment in new vehicle programs and expansion of its Jefferson North Assembly Plant is a major step toward preserving jobs and long-term success for the company, UAW Vice President General Holiefield said.

General Holiefield

“This is an important day for the future of the UAW and Chrysler LLC, and we are pleased to partner with Chrysler to help maintain jobs in Michigan,” said Holiefield, director of the union’s Chrysler Department.

“Although we are in the midst of challenging times, the strong relationship between Chrysler and the union will contribute toward our long-term success."

The $1.8-billion investment will permit expanding Jefferson North Assembly by 285,000 square feet and providing upgrades to ready the Detroit plant for future production starting in 2010.

The announcement was made today by Tom LaSorda, Chrysler vice chairman and president, who said the investment paves the way for bringing more world class products to market.  

Tom LaSorda

“This investment in our future products and at Jefferson North will enable the company to produce a future generation of vehicles more efficiently, with world-class quality and an improved environmental footprint.“

LaSorda added that this commitment “reinforces the long-standing partnership between Chrysler LLC, the City of Detroit and the State of Michigan."

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm welcomed the news, declaring, "A strong Chrysler is important for Michigan and Michigan workers, and we are pleased to cooperate with them on this project.”

Granholm said expansion of Jefferson North continues “a valuable, long-term partnership” that has helped to keep Michigan the automotive capital of North America. 

Gov. Jennifer Granholm looks over the assembly line during a 2006 visit to Jefferson North Assembly Plant.

Chrysler’s total program investment will go toward product development functions, as well as new, state-of-the-art manufacturing systems in the plant.

This investment provides for the design, development, components and supplier support associated with the new vehicle programs.

"We believe the Jefferson North makeover will give the facility and our company the upper hand on how responsive we can be to shifts in consumers' needs and changing market demands," said Frank Ewasyshyn, Chrysler executive vice president of manufacturing.

"We also believe this will be achieved while continuously improving the quality of our vehicles that will be produced in Detroit."

About Jefferson North Assembly

  • Built in 1991 and expanded in 1999
  • Currently occupies 2.7 million square feet
  • Home of the Jeep Grand Cherokee that has been built there since its introduction in 1992. Also produces the Jeep Commander.
  • Workers are members of UAW Locals 7, 412 and 889.

Jefferson North’s existing body shop will be replaced as part of the 285,000-square-foot expansion plan, giving the facility an all-new level of manufacturing flexibility for multiple product capability.

In addition, changes throughout paint and assembly operations will accommodate vehicles of various sizes and dimensions. Material handling and other plant functions also will be improved.

Jefferson North workers, represented by UAW Locals 7, 412 and 889, will benefit from new levels of involvement and training to help complete the plant transformation.

Workers are represented by Locals 7, 412 and 889.

Much of the critical work required for facility and equipment preparation and installation will be accomplished by employees as a result of collaboration between Chrysler and the UAW.

The improvements at Jefferson North will be made with the environment – both inside and outside the plant – in mind, according to the company’s announcement.

In fact, multiple “green” initiatives will be employed. Each of these additions will result in energy savings, as well as a brighter, cleaner and more ergonomically sound workplace for employees.

These advancements also will improve the facility’s environmental footprint by reducing carbon emissions, solid waste and raw material consumption while also helping to green the outside grounds of the plant. These include:

  • Energy-efficient fluorescent lighting fixtures and a state-of-the-art energy management system
  • Air filtration systems to improve employee comfort and workplace cleanliness

    Jefferson North Assembly Plant
  • Decanting technology, which will utilize paint sludge as an energy source, reducing emissions and solid waste
  • Electric-servo weld guns in the new body shop to improve welding quality for the vehicle bodies, while also producing quieter operations
  • Replacing unused asphalt parking areas with grass to reduce heat generation and improve appearance
  • Utilizing reusable paint clips that hold doors in place during the paint process and reusing parts racks, resulting in a reduced raw material consumption

Energy savings resulting from the sludge operations, filtration systems, lighting and servo welding alone are anticipated, in total, to save several dollars per vehicle built, while helping to have a cleaner, brighter workplace.


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