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The Detroit News

Chrysler lays off contract workers; part of plan to trim more salaried, factory jobs

The first wave of contract workers began leaving Chrysler LLC today as the privately-held automaker starts to slash about 1,100 contract positions by the end of the year, according to people familiar with the situation.
About one-third of the 1,100 contract workers were terminated today, with the remainder of the affected people to be let go in stages at the end of November and December.

The cutbacks in contract positions are part of a larger retrenchment at Chrysler that will include reductions in salaried positions and shift reductions at assembly plants.

People close to Chrysler said that 1,000 salaried positions will be cut beginning next month through a program of early retirements and buyouts. In addition, Chrysler is planning to reduce production at certain assembly plants by cutting shifts.

Sources familiar with the plan said plants that are expected to lose a shift include the Toledo North assembly plant, where the Jeep Liberty and Dodge Nitro are built, and the Belvidere assembly plant in Belvidere, Ill., where the Dodge Caliber, Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot are built. About 750 jobs will be affected in Toledo and about 1,000 in Belvidere, the sources said.

Chrysler, the smallest of Detroit's Big Three automakers, is cutting costs and streamlining its product line under the ownership of the private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP.

The automaker's board -- led by Chairman and CEO Bob Nardelli -- met Tuesday on a range of issues confronting the company.

One significant move, yet to be announced publicly, involves dropping slow-selling models including the Chrysler Pacifica crossover, Dodge Magnum wagon, the PT Cruiser convertible, and Chrysler Crossfire roadster.
 
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