The action, taken on Thursday against United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 12 acting chairman Ken Dudley, has turned worker distrust into outright anger about the automaker's plans to reduce the plant's 5,100-person work force.
``There will be no working relationship with that company until Ken is back at work,'' UAW Local 12 President Bruce Baumhower told the Toledo Blade newspaper. "We're not going to let that company tell the members who their representatives are going to be.
``It appears to me that there has been some desire by this corporation to be more confrontational with us. If that's what they want, we can do that.''
The northwest Ohio plant is the company's main source for Jeep Cherokee and Wrangler sport utility vehicles (SUVs).
On Feb. 18, first-shift workers in the body shop refused to work an hour overtime as called for under the union contract with the automaker. Workers complained DaimlerChrysler was cutting jobs and asking the remaining workers to do more.
The walkout disrupted operations for the next two days and resulted in the lost production of 800 vehicles.
Since the beginning of the year, DaimlerChrysler has laid off 150 people at the two-factory facility an hour south of Detroit. The automaker said in July 1997 that it would spend $1.2 billion to build a new factory and upgrade an existing site to build the next-generation Cherokee.
As part of that agreement, the company and union agreed that the work force, then about 5,600, would be reduced mostly through attrition to 4,900, in preparation for the new factory beginning production in 2001. Before that deal was announced, labor relations at the former American Motors plant had been harmonious since Chrysler took it over in 1987.