April 13, 2006

Ford to close Virginia assembly plant: union

By Poornima Gupta

DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co. plans to close its
Norfolk, Virginia, assembly plant by 2008 as part of the
automaker's broader restructuring plan, a local United Auto
Workers union official said on Thursday.

"Ford will make an announcement at one o'clock informing
the employees that it will close the plant in 2008," Chris
Kimmons, president of UAW Local 919, told Reuters. The local
represents the 2,400 workers at the plant.

The plant builds Ford's best-selling F-150 pickup truck,
which is also assembled in Ford's Dearborn, Michigan and Kansas
City, Missouri facilities.

Ford spokeswoman Anne Marie Gattari said the company has
nothing to announce at this time. She declined to comment

Ford's restructuring plan, dubbed "Way Forward," calls for
the closing of 14 plants, including seven assembly plants, and
slashing up to 30,000 blue-collar jobs. It is designed to
reverse a $1.6 billion loss last year in the company's North
American operations.

Ford -- which has already announced the closure of plants
in Wixom, Michigan; St Louis, Missouri and Atlanta, Georgia --
has said it will identify two other assembly plants for closure
later this year.

Strong competition, soaring health-care and raw material
costs, and a slide in U.S. market share forced the automaker to
announce a second restructuring for its North American
operations in four years.

Kimmons said he did not know what plans the automaker had
for the workers at the Norfolk plant.

"I have never seen the auto industry this bad," said
Kimmons, who has spent 42 years in the industry.