TOLEDO -- UAW members here rallied before Toledo’s city council Tuesday asking the city to approve the purchase of industrial land needed for the potential expansion of the assembly plant that makes the hot-selling Jeep Wrangler.
What was unusual is that the rally of about 100 members from UAW Local 12 wasn’t necessarily to protect jobs, but to keep a specific product.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is considering where and how it will build the next-generation Wrangler, which is due in 2017. CEO Sergio Marchionne said in October that making the next Wrangler out of aluminum would be prohibitively expensive in Toledo.
Toledo’s city council is expected to vote next week on a request from Mayor D. Michael Collins to purchase 28 acres of land adjacent to the existing Toledo Assembly Complex for $738,000, The Blade of Toledo reported today. The city earlier secured another 4.1-acre parcel nearby for the potential expansion of the Wrangler plant.
UAW members dressed in bright red shirts packed the council chambers to urge the city to buy the land, even though the automaker hasn’t committed to keep Wrangler output in Toledo.
Local 12 President Bruce Baumhower told the council that keeping the Wrangler in Toledo provided a stability not found with other vehicles. He noted that workers in Toledo had built a number of other vehicles over the years -- the Jeep Liberty, and the Dodge Nitro and Dakota -- all of which have disappeared.
“Cars have product cycles,” Baumhower said, according to the Toledo Free Press. “This car has a cycle of 75 years.”
Toledo is the only plant where Wranglers are made. Marchionne has said he won’t build Wranglers or Jeep Grand Cherokees outside of the U.S. to meet overseas demand for the two flagship models at Jeep -- Fiat Chrysler’s hottest brand.
The union president said Toledo Assembly produced 50,000 Jeeps in October, including nearly 22,500 Wranglers. Still, he said, the factory had unfilled orders that had to be pushed into the 2015 model year.
Chrysler spokeswoman Jodi Tinson declined to comment.