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MICHELE NORRIS, host:
Ford's Atlanta assembly plant in Hapeville, Georgia, was one of the facilities named in yesterday's restructuring plan. The plant, which makes the Ford Taurus, will be idle this fall. Mark Gilmore works on the chassis assembly line there. He moved to the Georgia plant just last year from another Ford plant in Ohio. We caught up with him at the offices of the UAW local 882. He says the mood on the factory floor today was somber.
Mr. Mark Gilmore (Employee, Ford): Quiet, you know, it's like, when you walk in it's like somebody died and everybody knows the same person, you know. A lot of bitterness. The morale is at an all-time low, you know.
NORRIS: How long have you worked at Ford?
Mr. GILMORE: 11 years.
NORRIS: And many of the autoworkers come from, it's almost in their family. Their fathers worked at the plants, their grandfathers worked at the plants, is that the case with you?
Mr. GILMORE: Oh, absolutely. Yes. I had two uncles and two aunts and some cousins and, you know, they all helped me get in and it's been like that for years. It's a family owned and operated place.
NORRIS: If you see Ford as sort of family member, what's the family going to do for you now that they're planning to close the plant?
Mr. GILMORE: Well, I mean, when I say family, I mean everybody has their own particular family within the family. You understand what I'm saying?
NORRIS: Mm hmm.
Mr. GILMORE: You've got a union family and you've got a (unintelligible) family and you've got a Detroit family that's calling all the shots. So, I'm guessing they're going to give us some type of severance type package.
NORRIS: Under the UAW contract, being fired or laid off doesn't necessarily mean that you automatically lose your salary. Will you continue to stay in something called the jobs bank?
Mr. GILMORE: Yeah, they have a gen pool...
NORRIS: A gen pool, what's that mean?
Mr. GILMORE: Well, there's an unemployment pool where when you're laid off they put your names to the side and whenever there's an opening at another facility they go by seniority and you get first dibs on that.
NORRIS: Would you qualify for that automatically?
Mr. GILMORE: Yes. You qualify for it, but the way it's looking, you know, hang around for a year or two, and what if, if you do get lucky and get to go to another plant, next thing you know that plant will be closed, too. I've learned my lesson. I moved down from Ohio from one plant that I thought was closing right into a plant that was closing. And I really can't afford to move state-to-state, you know, talking about being part of Ford family where there really isn't much of a family. It doesn't feel like it anyway.
NORRIS: When Wall Street tries to assess the future of the automakers they usually go to business analysts or PhD's, those who study economics, but from the perspective of someone who works on the front line, what do you think the future holds for Ford?
Mr. GILMORE: Well, me personally, I think that unless they incorporate some fresh ideas and some diversity in the planning and engineering of the types of vehicles, it's going to continue to suffer. They're going to continue to lose ground.
NORRIS: And is this about foreign competition or is there something else at work?
Mr. GILMORE: Oh, it's about foreign competition, but a competition it is what it is, you know. You have to keep up with that particular competition. Everyone's trying to get better, make better cars, better quality vehicles except for Ford.
NORRIS: You know, for a long time autoworkers would raise their sons, and eventually their sons and daughters, to go to work in the plant.
Mr. GILMORE: Absolutely.
NORRIS: It's steady work. Do you want your children to go to work in the auto industry?
Mr. GILMORE: If it's better than this or maybe if they can get it for maybe a different company. I don't know.
NORRIS: You might be thinking about other career options. What are you thinking about?
Mr. GILMORE: Well, actually I have an open house today at the broadcasting school. I want to do sports broadcasting in radio. I'm going to eventually have my own sports talk show. That's my thing. That's always been an ambition of mine and the way I figure it is if this would never have happened I probably would never want to do the things that I want to do, so. I try to tell people, yesterday and today, I mean, if you ever wanted to do something in your life now's the time.
NORRIS: So, I guess that's your philosophy right now, doors close, windows open.
Mr. GILMORE: Absolutely.
NORRIS: Well, Mark Gilmore all the best to you. Thanks for talking to us.
MR. GILMORE: All right. Thanks a lot. I appreciate it.
NORRIS: Mark Gilmore is an autoworker at the Ford plant in Hapeville, Georgia.
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