DEARBORN, Mich. — The parking lot at Ford Motor Co.'s Dearborn Truck plant just got a little more exclusive.
Plant manager Rob Webber announced Monday that, starting Feb. 1, the parking lot may be used only by employees who drive vehicles built by Ford or one of its subsidiaries.
Webber's move came the same day Ford announced a restructuring plan under which it will cut up to 30,000 jobs and close 14 facilities by 2012. Ford said the plan is designed to make the company's North American division, which lost $1.6 billion last year, profitable by 2008.
"It was something this plant manager took upon himself. It's not a company-wide policy," Ford spokeswoman Anne Marie Gattari said, adding that Webber made the decision after consulting with local UAW leaders.
Jerry Sullivan, president of United Auto Workers Local 600, which represents about 2,600 workers at the plant, applauded Webber's move.
"Everybody's in this together. (We need) to buy the products we make and support the company," Sullivan said. "This is a good place to start."
The UAW in the past has banished Asian and European vehicles from its parking lots. The restriction at Dearborn Truck, however, may be the first to be sanctioned by an automaker, The Detroit News reported Friday.
The ban applies to both salaried and hourly workers with permits to park on site. About 15 percent of Dearborn Truck employees have such permits. Employees who don't drive Ford products can still park in an employee lot across the street from the plant.
Those employees will include a veteran skilled tradesman who said he drives a vehicle made by DaimlerChrysler AG because it gives him "the most bang for my buck."
"They can't tell you how to spend your money," said the man, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals. "It's still a free country."
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