The Detroit Free Press reports that the Mack Avenue Engine II plant in Detroit will go dark come September. Production at the engine production facility, which is a part of the larger Mack Avenue Engine Complex, will end Sept. 9, and over 200 workers may be routed into other jobs at other plants, according to reports. The Auburn Hills automaker informed the state of Michigan of its operations decision on July 9.
Chrysler announcement: A portent for layoffs?
In its notice to Michigan state officials, Chrysler didn’t sugar-coat the future state of affairs for the displaced workers of the Mack Avenue Engine II plant.
“Although we anticipate that there may be other employment opportunities for affected employees, these layoffs must be considered permanent,” the notice reads.
The 650,000-square-foot Mack Avenue Engine II plant, which opened in 1999 at 4500 St. Jean Ave. and began making engines in 2000, produced a number of different engine designs. Primary among them was a 3.7-liter V6 model that is now being used in the Jeep Liberty and Ram 1500 pickup. Chrysler has decided that it will no longer use the Mack plant engine, but will instead replace it with a different engine built at a different Chrysler facility, the location of which was not named in the automaker’s press release.
“This action is in line with the company’s 2009 business plan, which showed that the award-winning 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 would replace seven V-6 engine models through 2014,” the Chrysler statement continues.
Speculation as to which plant may pick up the slack after Mack Avenue Engine II closes its doors includes the Trenton South Engine Plant in Trenton, N.J., as well as the South Engine Plant in Saltillo, Mexico. Both plants produce Pentastar engines, according to The Detroit News.
Reactions to relocation
Mack Avenue Engine II plant worker Tony Leonard of Macomb County, 41, told the Free Press that he’s worried about what the future may hold. His commute time would be increased by two hours or more, each way.
“This plant is a nice plant. It’s clean, it’s climate controlled, and we are getting booted out of here with no idea where we are going, or what shift we are going to go to,” Leonard said.
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A history at Mack Avenue
Spread across 110 acres, the Mack Avenue Engine Complex did not begin as a Chrysler factory. “Old Mack” was built in 1916 by the Michigan Stamping Company. Briggs Manufacturing bought the plant in 1920, where bodies for Plymouth, Ford and other cars were stamped. Chrysler Corporation purchased the property along with 11 other plants in 1953, and continued to use Mack Avenue as a stamping factory, until 1979. That year, Chrysler closed the factory due to financial misfortune, and it became a worn-out ghost.
The city of Detroit bought the property in 1982, but could neither find a new purchaser or afford to clean up the site. Ownership was given back to Chrysler, which began cleanup and demolition in 1990. The “New Mack” Avenue Engine complex began at 1,400,000 square feet, and that space was filled with Dodge Viper production from 1992 through 1995. By 1998, the facility became an engine plant exclusively, and 650,000 square feet was added for the Mack Avenue Engine II plant in 1999. Employees at Mack Avenue total around 1,300, all members of the UAW local 51 labor union.
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