tDETROIT— Chrysler Group LLC Chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne, and UAW Vice President and Director of the Chrysler Department General Holiefield hosted former Polish President and founder of Solidarity, the Soviet bloc's first independent trade union, Lech Walesa at the company's Jefferson North Assembly Plant on Thursday. The 2,800 employees at JNAP build the award-winning Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango.
tDuring his visit, Walesa spoke to a group of about 100 workers and guests. In his introduction, Marchionne said, "It is not often in life that you get to spend time with someone who has played a vital role in changing the course of history.
t"Lech Walesa is one of those rare leaders who represents a true turning point in our collective life, for what he has done and for the way he has inspired the world," said Marchionne.
tFollowing his speech, Walesa toured the plant with Marchionne and Holiefield to see how it has restored the pride and dignity of the workforce through the implementation of World Class Manufacturing (WCM), the company's production system. The goal of WCM is to reduce waste by improving safety, quality and efficiency.
t"Jefferson North has played a key role, not only in the resurgence of Chrysler sales but also in the cultural change that is transforming our entire company," said Marchionne. "A cultural change driven by personal commitment, sense of responsibility, respect for each other, and the awareness that we have the privilege to be the authors of our future, of a better future."
tWalesa traveled to Detroit from Chicago where he participated in the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates on April 23-25. The World Summit is internationally recognized as among the most important annual events in the field of peacemaking, attracting hundreds of high-profile leaders and organizations around the world. The Jeep brand is one of the sponsors of the Summit.
tWalesa founded Solidarity in 1980 and went on to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983. He served as President of Poland between 1990 and 1995.