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Auto blogWed, 12 Mar 2014 11:29:00 EST
The new Jeep Cherokee has been quite a success for Chrysler, but its factory workers are getting tired. The automaker has agreed to hire up to 1,000 part-time, temporary employees at its Toledo Assembly Complex where the CUV and Wrangler are built. It will allow the company to keep Jeep production moving, while giving laborers a break.
According to plant manager Chuck Padden in the Toledo Blade, full-time workers are regularly taking on 60 hours a week, and it's beginning to wear on them. "To get them more time off is important to us, to make sure they're refreshed, and can work safely," said Padden.
Chrysler has already hired 380 temporary, part-time workers for the plant, and 50 have been converted to full-time employees. The company is in the process of interviewing the rest of the new hires now and plans to have all 1,000 in place by the summer. They will work between 10 and 30 hours a week mostly on weekends for $15.78 per hour with limited benefits. The temporary positions will last "as long as demand continues for the Jeep Wrangler and the Jeep Cherokee," said Jodi Tinson, Chrysler spokesperson for manufacturing and labor communications, to Autoblog in an email.
Let's make this very plain - the city of Toledo, OH loves its Jeeps. It loves them so fervently that the very rumor of the Jeep Wrangler moving out of its traditional home prompted the city's mayor, D. Michael Collins, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich to hold a weekend conference call with Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne.
"The purpose of this call was for the mayor and governor to gain clarity on Mr. Marchionne's comments last week regarding the possibility of the next generation of Jeep Wrangler being built at a location other than the Toledo North Assembly Plant," a spokesman for the mayor's office told The Toledo Blade.
While no further commitments were made by any party, Collins and Kasich's statement was quite unequivocal about keeping Toledo's unwillingness to let the Wrangler go, saying "the city and its partners will again rise to the occasion to ensure that the new Wrangler is made in Toledo." According to the newspaper, the next step is for face-to-face meetings between officials from Ohio and FCA.
Facing a possible recall totaling around 2.7 million of its most popular SUVs, Chrysler remains insistent that the 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty are safe vehicles. This comes on the heels of a recall request from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for these two models due to fuel tanks mounted behind the rear axle, which could possibly be ruptured during severe rear-end collisions, leading to an increased risk of fire. In response to the allegations, Chrysler says that it does not agree with NHTSA nor does it plan on recalling either vehicle.
Chrysler said both SUVs "met and exceeded" the requirements for fuel-system integrity, and cooperated fully with NHTSA since the investigation was opened in 2010. While 15 deaths and 46 injuries have been reported from fires caused by rear-end collisions on these models, Chrysler is claiming that the vast majority of incidents cited by NHTSA were "high-energy crashes," including one where a stopped Grand Cherokee was rear-ended by a tractor trailer going 65 miles per hour.
The automaker wraps up by saying "NHTSA seems to be holding Chrysler Group to a new standard for fuel tank integrity that does not exist now and did not exist when the Jeep vehicles were manufactured." Scroll down for Chrysler's official response to NHTSA, but we're pretty sure this isn't the last we've heard on this issue.