DETROIT -- The Chrysler group will announce this week that its Sterling Heights, Mich., assembly plant will build a new generation of models using team assembly, says CEO Dieter Zetsche.
"We're still fleshing out the details of our new Sterling Heights assembly plant and Sterling stamping plant labor agreements," Zetsche said in a speech to the Detroit Economic Club Monday, March 14. "We'll have more to say about this next week."
The Sterling Heights labor pact will "incorporate many of the innovative features" adopted at UAW Local 1268 in Belvidere, Ill., Zetsche said.
In December, UAW Local 1268 approved a flexible agreement that will be used to build a new generation of small vehicles replacing the Dodge Neon beginning in the 2006 model year. The Belvidere pact provides for work teams, self-designed work stations and and flexible job classifications.
The Chrysler group is expected to announce that UAW Local 1700 at Sterling Heights will assemble the vehicles replacing the Dodge Stratus and Chrysler Sebring. The new cars will debut for the 2007 model year.
But increased production flexibility will allow the company to use the Belvidere and Sterling Heights plants interchangeably to build the small and mid-sized cars, depending on demand.
Chrysler group COO Tom LaSorda confirmed the two-plant strategy in January.
The Chrysler group has not had the flexibility to shift production. The Sterling Heights plant builds the Sebring and Stratus sedans and the Sebring convertible. The Sebring and Stratus coupes are built at the Mitsubishi Motors Corp. plant in Normal, Ill.
The Chrysler group has no plans to produce vehicles in Normal after its contract expires this year.
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