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Chrysler to Offer 2,400 Buyouts in Illinois Plant

The Belvidere plant will become the 20th Chrysler factory to receive offers since September, a spokesman says.

November 11, 2008
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Chrysler LLC will offer buyouts next week to more than 2,400 workers at an Illinois assembly plant as the money-losing automaker boosts efforts to trim its workforce.

The Belvidere plant will become the 20th Chrysler factory to receive offers since September, spokesman Ed Saenz said.

The cutbacks are part of a restructuring program announced in November 2007. Chrysler's U.S. sales have fallen every month since then, and owner Cerberus Capital Management is exploring a possible sale to buyers, including General Motors. (For more, read "Chrysler Chief Warns of Industry Collapse.")

The Belvidere package comes in addition to buyout proposals delivered Wednesday, November 5, to more than 18,000 white-collar employees in the U.S. The workers have until November 26 to accept them. If Chrysler fails to meet its goal of cutting 25 percent of its salaried workforce, it will begin involuntary layoffs, said Chrysler spokesman David Elshoff.

The white-collar buyouts include a $25,000 voucher to buy a new car. The voucher applies only to vehicles invoiced to dealers before July 1. Chrysler employees can use the voucher to buy cars they now lease.

Buyout offers also will go to 938 white-collar workers in Canada, 1,250 in Mexico and 470 in the rest of the world, Elshoff said.

Saenz said Chrysler would continue work on two shifts at Belvidere. A third shift was eliminated this year. The plant makes the Dodge Caliber car and the Jeep Compass and Patriot crossovers, three of the most fuel-efficient vehicles in the automaker's fleet. (For more, read "UAW Chief: Detroit Three Quiet on Helping Retiree Funds.")

Filed by by Bradford Wernle of Automotive News, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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