LaSorda: Workers ''jumped at it.''
The engine plant in Dundee, Mich., which provides Chrysler's new line of four-cylinder engines, now uses the schedule.
Union members at the plant work 49 fewer days a year than typical production workers, although their schedule changes each week in a three-week cycle. Every third week, an employee has five consecutive days off.
For the company, the schedule yields 49 additional days of straight-time production each year, Bruce Coventry, president of the Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance operating the engine plant, said at a press conference this month.
Said Tom LaSorda, Chrysler group CEO: "This is something we are looking at and talking to the union about."
The UAW had no immediate comment.
One key difference between the engine-plant system and a traditional production schedule is that Saturday work at Dundee is paid at straight time, not overtime, LaSorda said.
A typical plant works eight hours a day, five days a week, for 49 weeks, yielding 245 work days a year, or 1,960 hours of work for each employee, Coventry says.
At Dundee, employees work 10 hours, four days a week for 49 weeks. But the plant operates six days a week at straight time.
"Each individual (at Dundee) works 196 days a year, or 1,960 hours per year," Coventry said.
So the number of employees' straight-time hours is identical under either system. But the Dundee employees get 49 additional days off because of the four-day workweek.
And the plant gains 49 days of straight-time production annually because of straight-time Saturdays, he said.
The Chrysler group's blog last week described the savings as "in the millions each year just in labor costs." Workers initially frowned at the idea of Saturday work, LaSorda says. "Then they found out they will work 49 days less a year, and they jumped at it."
The Dundee plant builds a new line of 1.8-liter, 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter engines for 12 Chrysler model lines worldwide. The plant is a joint venture of DaimlerChrysler AG, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and Hyundai Motor Co.
Dundee is a two-shift plant. Currently, no Sunday production is scheduled. If Sunday production were required, it could be scheduled as two shifts of up to 10 hours per shift. The work would be overtime.
The alliance will eventually operate two plants. The second plant begins operating in October 2006. Total employment at the two plants will be 236 hourly, 145 salaried and 150 employees of on-site suppliers.
You may e-mail Mary Connelly at [email protected]