Chrysler launches new round of UAW buyouts

Partnership with state of Michigan included in program

UPDATED: 9/12/08 10:00 pm EDT DETROIT -- Chrysler LLC is offering another round of employee buyouts to its Michigan work force.

The 2,500 UAW hourly workers at Chrysler’s Warren Truck assembly plant in suburban Detroit received notice of the buyout offers Thursday, Sept. 11, said Mark Dickow, shop chairman at the plant for UAW Local 140.

Earlier buyouts and retirement packages were as high as $100,000. Chrysler spokeswoman Mary Beth Halprin said the next round of buyouts would be “unique to the industry and be achieved in partnership with the state of Michigan.” She declined to elaborate.

Chrysler, which has about 45,000 UAW employees, is following Ford Motor Co. in its efforts to prune UAW production ranks in the face of falling North American sales.

Dickow said about 960 workers at Warren Truck, also known locally as Dodge City, took a buyout in 2007 and another 140 this year. He wouldn’t estimate how many would take this third round in a year’s time.

Halprin declined to say how many workers took Chrysler’s earlier buyout offers.

Ford announced another round of buyouts this summer when only 4,100 workers took a package offered after the New Year. Ford had hoped for twice that number to take a package.

Adjusting staff

The carmakers are using buyouts to bring staffing in line with falling production, especially for light trucks. The Detroit 3 rely on pickups and SUVs for more than half of vehicle sales.

Dickow was at a media event at Warren Truck highlighting new manufacturing processes used to produce the new-generation 2009 Dodge Ram full-sized pickup.

Chrysler has installed a new flexible body shop capable of building four variations of the Ram on one line, though the carmaker is building just the crew cab and quad cab version of the truck in Warren.

Between Warren Truck and Chrysler’s other Ram assembly plant in St. Louis, Chrysler spent about $400 million for manufacturing upgrades, said Michael Tonietto, Chrysler director of Advance Manufacturing Engineering for AME Truck.

Production in Warren began Aug. 18. The plant is capable of building 61 Rams an hour when fully operational compared with about 55 when the last-generation model Rams finished their 2008 run on dedicated lines last summer.

Flexible factories

All Chrysler assembly plants now are flexible except Jefferson North in Detroit. That plant becomes flexible in 2010 with the launch of the next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee, Tonietto said.

Dickow said all production workers at Warren Truck finished training this year to operate as teams capable of doing four to seven jobs in an area instead of one. He said workers, now on two shifts, would begin overtime in November to get the new Rams to dealers.

He added that 150 dealers on Friday, Sept. 19, will arrive at Warren Truck to drive the new pickup back to their stores.

PRESS RELEASE: Chrysler LLC, State of Michigan and UAW Announce Industry-First Special Program For Eligible Chrysler Employees

- Joint partnership to offer financial support, job training and

placement assistance for UAW-represented workers in Michigan who take

early retirement and voluntary separation offers from Chrysler

- Collaboration between Michigan's 'No Worker Left Behind' and 'Michigan

Works!' initiatives, Chrysler and the UAW becomes first-of-its-kind for

Michigan workers

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Sept. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Chrysler LLC, in partnership with the State of Michigan and the UAW announced today a first-of-its-kind special programs opportunity for eligible UAW-represented Chrysler employees in the State of Michigan. The joint partnership offers Chrysler employees financial support, job training and placement assistance, in order to ensure that "life after Chrysler" leads to a bright future for Michigan families and the economy of the State.

Chrysler LLC will be offering three programs -- Incentive Program for Retirement (IPR), Special Early Retirement (SER) and Enhanced Voluntary Termination of Employment (EVTEP). In Michigan, approximately 13,800 employees are eligible for the three programs, which represents nearly all hourly employees in the state.

"This win-win-win partnership will help employees who are separating from Chrysler land on their feet," said Al Iacobelli, Chrysler Vice President -- Employees Relations. "We appreciate the years of dedication and work that the men and women of Chrysler have put into their careers with our organization. We now provide them a chance to reinvest in and reinvent their next career."

These socially responsible programs will be offered above and beyond Chrysler's lump-sum payouts and extended healthcare benefits.

"Providing workers with the training they need is a critical part of our plan to strengthen and diversify Michigan's economy," Governor Jennifer M. Granholm said. "This collaboration between Chrysler, the United Auto Workers, and the State of Michigan is exactly the kind of partnership we need to better position Michigan to thrive in 21st century economy."

"The UAW is committed to assisting our members successfully transition to other good paying jobs once they leave Chrysler," said UAW Vice President General Holiefield, who directs the union's Chrysler Department. "We know that UAW members, with their total dedication to quality and productivity, can make valuable contributions in a wide range of fields. We believe these programs will help our members apply their skills in new areas."

Today's announced partnership has three components: Training, Tuition and Placement.

Training

The primary focus of the State of Michigan's "No Worker Left Behind" program to pursue certificates of value, associate's degrees or technical training, which leads to a job in a high-demand occupation. The State of Michigan will work with Chrysler participants to provide:

-- Skill and aptitude assessments;

-- Career counseling;

-- Crisis intervention and life skills counseling;

-- Up to two years of training; and,

-- Support services, such as mentoring and coaching.

"With the help of 'Michigan Works!' agencies and the No Worker Left Behind initiative, every UAW employee separating from Chrysler under retirement, early retirement and voluntary separation will have the opportunity to receive targeted education, training, and support services to prepare for high demand and emerging industry careers," Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth (DLEG) Director Keith W. Cooley said. "This win-win-win partnership demonstrates our commitment to retain these workers and help them succeed in making a new life."

Tuition

Chrysler has established a special tuition assistance program to provide tuition assistance of up to $5,000 per year for two years, for a total of $10,000 per person. Tuition includes instructional costs, books, materials, fees (i.e. application costs, registration, lab fees) and academic support services.

Placement

Job placement assistance will be provided through Michigan Works! Office locations to help participants take advantage of newly acquired education and training by working directly with training providers and employers. Michigan Works! has more than 100 facilities across the state. "Matching the skills of our workforce with the needs of our employers is what No Worker Left Behind is all about," DLEG Deputy Director Andy Levin said. "We must begin with the recognition that none of us can do it alone. We must all work together -- citizens, businesses, government, and educational institutions -- to build a Michigan workforce with the skills and training to meet the needs of Michigan's existing and emerging economy."

Chrysler LLC will also be providing special relocation and mortgage services for those that are looking to take advantage of refinancing their home or moving to another location.

About No Worker Left Behind

On August 1, 2007, Granholm announced the No Worker Left Behind initiative: an ambitious plan to train 100,000 citizens in three years for jobs in high demand occupations, emerging industries, and entrepreneurial endeavors. No Worker Left Behind gives Michigan workers the opportunity to acquire the skills they need to win good paying jobs in today's global economy. No Worker Left Behind provides up to two years of free tuition at any Michigan community college, university, or other approved training program for qualifying participants. www.michigan.gov/dleg

About Chrysler LLC

Chrysler LLC, headquartered in Auburn Hills, Mich., produces Chrysler, Jeep(R), Dodge and Mopar(R) brand vehicles and products. Total sales worldwide in 2007 were 2.7 million vehicles. Sales outside of North America were the highest ever with an increase of 15 percent over 2006. Its product lineup features some of the world's most recognizable vehicles, including the Chrysler 300 and Town & Country, Jeep Wrangler and Grand Cherokee and Dodge Challenger and Ram. The Chrysler Foundation, the company's philanthropic arm, annually supports hundreds of charitable organizations in the United States and throughout the world. In 2007, the Foundation gave approximately $21 million in charitable donations.

SOURCE Chrysler LLC

-0- 09/12/2008

/NOTE TO EDITORS: For more information, please visit the Chrysler media site at http://www.media.chrysler.com. /

/CONTACT: Mary Beth Halprin, Chrysler, +1-248-512-2658 office,

+1-248-766-1551 cell, mh166@chrysler.com; or Mario L. Morrow, Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth, +1-517-373-9280 office, morrowm2@michigan.gov /

/Web site: http://www.chrysler.com

http://media.chrysler.com

http://www.michigan.gov/dleg /

You can reach David Barkholz at dbarkholz@crain.com

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