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Chrysler reaches deal with UAW workers

STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 11/23/2011, 2:25 p.m.

Can't we all just get along?

Well lately is seems that Chrysler and its auto workers can.

Recently, the UAW and Chrysler agreed on a new labor agreement. And now Chrysler, along with its parent Fiat of Italy, has announced a $500 million investment in its Toledo Assembly Complex. That investment includes an additional 1,100 jobs and an expansion of the body shop, which are all part of a plan to build the next generation of Jeep sport utility vehicles. Some people within the industry have attributed the news of this investment to President Barack Obama's bailout of the auto-industry.

The 1,100 new workers at Chrysler will be paid entry-level wages at around $15 per hour, which is about half what most workers currently earn.

The plant will begin production on a new Jeep sport utility in two years to replace the aging Liberty model. And there's a rumor that the fourth-largest city in Ohio will be home to other Jeep products as well.

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne recently announced that the company plans to replace the Nitro and said other vehicles could be built on the same assembly line as the Liberty. Also, if sales increase overseas, the Wrangler might enter into production in Toledo as well.

In the meantime, the United Auto Workers union has agreed to work four days in December during the normal shutdown between Christmas and New Year's Day.

According to the Associated Press, Toledo Mayor Mike Bell called the Chrysler announcement "the equivalent of a blood transfusion for our city." And the city could attribute that transfusion to the Obama administration.

Toledo has produced Jeep vehicles since the mid-20th century. Now, the city has a new lease on life.