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Obama and Biden visit Chrysler plant in Kokomo – Video Add

by Bill Cawthon on

Employees at Chrysler Group LLC’s Indiana Transmission Plant II welcomed President Obama and Vice President Biden today as they toured the Kokomo, Ind., facility to celebrate the Company’s recent announcements that it would invest more than $1.1 billion locally for the production of future transmissions and retain nearly 3,500 Indiana jobs.

Escorted by Plant Manager Jeremy Keating and UAW Local 986 President Richie Boruff, the President and Vice President toured the plant where the W5A580 5-speed transmission for the Chrysler 300, Jeep® Grand Cherokee, Dodge Nitro and Dodge Charger are produced. The group stopped at the final assembly line where the clutch and supporting components are manually assembled to the transmission. The President and Vice President talked with employees about the changes that have been implemented to improve the efficiency of the line as a result of World Class Manufacturing (WCM), an extensive and thorough process to restore all Chrysler Group facilities to their original and maximum functionality.

In a speech to a group of more than 150 employees and invited guests, he highlighted two ITPII employees, whose futures were changed as a result of the Company’s recent investments and the support of the administration. Sharron Ybarra, 56, was hired in September 2010. Ybarra previously worked for 20 years at the local papermill, which shut down, leaving her out of work for five years. Ybarra later found work at a communications company paying $9 per hour.

James Faurote has been a Chrysler employee since 1998, when he was hired at the New Castle (Ind.) Machining Plant. In January 2004, Faurote was laid off due to the plant closing and relocated to Kokomo where he has been laid off and back to work multiple times over the past five years. It wasn’t until after the bankruptcy that Faurote has been back to work at Chrysler for more than a year.

“Even as we continue to face serious challenges, what’s happening here at this plant, the changes we’re seeing throughout Kokomo are signs of hope and confidence in the future,” said the President in his remarks.

The declines in auto industry and other manufacturing jobs have taken a heavy toll on Indiana. In 2008, Forbes called Kokomo one of “America’s Fastest Dying Towns.” In June 2009, the Kokomo metropolitan area had an unemployment rate of 19.6 percent. By September 2010, the rate was down to 11 percent. That’s still higher than the national rate of 9.6 percent but a significant improvement.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.


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