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Auto workers plan Friday rally at Fenton Chrysler plant

07.20.2009 6:46 pm
Auto workers plan Friday rally at Fenton Chrysler plant
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Three weeks after the last vehicle rolled off the line at the Chrysler assembly plant in Fenton, resentment over jobs lost to the auto maker’s facilities in Mexico and Canada continues to simmer.

This Friday, members of United Auto Workers Local 136 will publicly vent some of that  displeasure a 1 p.m. rally in front of the plant gates at 1050 Dodge Drive in Fenton. Union representatives are inviting area politicians along with the general public to join them.

“(Chrysler) took billions in (federal) bailout money and now they are taking our jobs to Mexico,” said Clarissa Eaton of Festus, a former Chrysler worker whose husband, Jerry, spent 25 years at the Fenton plants before losing his job this month. “We feel this is a bad math equation.”

In a show of support for the Missouri workers, Don Ackerman, the president of Local 136, expects UAW members from as far away as  Michigan and Indiana to travel to Fenton by bus.

Chrysler officially ended 50 years of production in Fenton earlier this month after a bid to keep the company solvent with federal bailout funds failed. The Dodge Ram pick-up trucks and Chrysler minivans, once produced in Fenton are now mostly manufactured in Canada and Mexico, as Chrysler emerges from bankruptcy under the management of Fiat SpA, the Italian automaker.

Federal, state and local officials say there is virtually no chance the Fenton plants — which once employed upwards of 6,000 people  — will ever again produce an automobile or truck.

And that, Eaton hopes, will serve as the impetus for residents across the region to join forces with the auto workers Friday afternoon.

“It’s (the taxpayer’s) money, they need to send a message to the politicians,” she said.

Local 136 is planning a picnic at its headquarters, 980 Horan Drive, Fenton, for its members and other guests following Friday’s rally.

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