For Chrysler workers, it hasn't been a picnic -- except for today

DETROIT -- Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne, the auto industry's most renowned workaholic, hasn't permitted himself or his employees to relax much since he assumed management control of the company on June 10, 2009.

But the normally ultra-serious CEO was beaming this afternoon as he and his executive leadership team cooked up a barbecue for employees on the lawn outside the Chrysler Technical Center in Auburn Hills, Mich. A statement on the company's Web site said the picnic was held to honor Chrysler employees “in appreciation for their dedication during Chrysler Group LLC's first year as a new company.”

The employees got to view all the latest products from the Chrysler and Fiat families, including exotic high-performance Ferrari and Maserati cars, and agricultural and construction equipment made by Case New Holland, owned by Fiat, according to a release on the company's media website.

Other than the fact Chrysler employees got to enjoy a rare afternoon off, there was another unusual aspect to the gathering -- the boss was so relaxed he even left his trademark black sweater behind, preferring a more picnic-friendly sports shirt instead.