Local Auto Workers Could Be Back On Job Soon

AVON LAKE, Ohio – Unemployed auto workers at Ford's Avon Lake assembly plant have new hope that they will be back on the job real soon, 19/43 News' Bill Younkin reported.

There is unofficial word that the Ford Motor Co. has decided to build a new vehicle at the Avon Lake plant. The new vehicle will reportedly be a Mercury version of its hot-selling sport-utility vehicle -- the Ford Escape.

The Mercury version is reportedly scheduled to begin production at the Avon Lake plant as early as the 2003 model year. That news comes as music to the ears of many unemployed Ford workers.

"It's very good news for everybody," Ford dealer Harry Lloyd said. "You figure there are 2,500 people that really don't know what's going to happen."

When the Villager model and the Nissan Quest are phased out this summer, more than 900 workers are to be laid off, joining many others who have already been laid off. The new model gives them hope.

"Even if it's a year down the road, it'll mean a lot," Lloyd said.

While the official Ford announcement isn't expected for another week, workers got the good news on Thursday, and needless to say, they are excited.

"That makes me happy," 27-year Ford employee Bob Lindsey said. "For one thing, I'm right at retirement. Now I know I'll finish my time here."

Lindsey said that he's also happy for his co-workers who are not so close to retirement.

"The younger people that are working here, it makes a good job for them for the future," Lindsey said.

Company officials at Ford's Detroit headquarters would only say that they are working on plans for the Lorain County plant, but that a decision could be months away. They did confirm that they would be at the Cleveland Auto Show next Friday for what event organizers have said is a major announcement.

A Mercury version of the Ford Escape is one of six new models that the company plans to introduce in the next few years.