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AP Reports:Jeep Workers Authorize Local Union to Strike in Ohio

TOLEDO, November 13, 2001 Ohio AP reported tonight that workers at a Jeep plant that builds the new Liberty and venerable Wrangler voted Tuesday to give their local union authority to call a strike.

The plant employs about 3,900 workers. Nick Vuich, United Auto Workers chairman at the plant, said the authorization creates a 60-day negotiation period.

Vuich said Tuesday night that 88 percent of the workers who cast votes were in favor of strike authorization. He declined to give the specific vote total, saying the UAW international office must be notified of that on Thursday.

The vote was taken over health and safety concerns at the plant that opened in April, said officials from UAW Local 12. Workers are upset that they are working long hours when hundreds of others are laid off.

``We've got 800 people laid off,'' the AP quoted Vuich.

They went on to report that employees have been working 10 hour days and several Saturdays each month. The union has been pushing DaimlerChrysler AG [NYSE:DAJ - news] to add a third shift at the plant.

DaimlerChrysler has said that 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.

Extra overtime, which is allowed by the contract, likely will continue until April, the automaker has said.

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

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.