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Auto Plant Workers Acknowledge Economic Recovery

Posted: Sep 20, 2013 10:10 PM by Nick Chabarria, KOMU 8 Reporter
Updated: Sep 20, 2013 11:43 PM

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LIBERTY - President Barack Obama delivered a message of hope to workers at the Ford Motor Co. plant Friday. That message was met with accordance from workers who say things are finally looking up in the auto industry.

Gary Wise has worked for Ford for the past 13 years. He says being in the business throughout the economic crisis of 2008 has been anything but easy.

"I went to three different plants in three years," Wise said. "I took a five dollar an hour cut to keep working."

"It was real depressing," plant worker John Labella said. "You didn't know if you were the next one."

Wise originally worked 10 years at a Ford Detroit plant before getting laid off in 2010. As a tool and die maker, Wise only worked at the stamping where the larger auto body parts like doors and side plates are made. Only about 10 years from retirement, Wise took an open job in the assembly plant to stay working. But the workload took its toll.

"You're making one truck a minute," Wise said. "So you've got one minute to run 20 feet and do a job and it doesn't stop."

Wise heard of an opening in the Liberty stamp plant and took the opportunity.

"The auto industry as whole, thing's are getting better but it's still rough out there," Wise said.

Labella said he and many other workers never lost trust in the company.

"It's a strong company and we had a lot of faith in the company and what they're doing."

In 2011 Ford announced a $1.1 billion investment in the Claycomo plant. The plant then began manufacturing the Ford-150 truck. This not only brought a surge of about 1,600 jobs but it started the resurgence of the states' auto industry. Governor Jay Nixon frequently touts this resurgence as one of his greatest accomplishments as governor. For workers like Wise it meant things were looking up.

"If the money's there the work has to get done," Wise said.

Obama said Ford plans to add 1,100 more workers to the plant before the end of the year.

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