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DaimlerChrysler to Cut North American Workforce By 20 Percent

Aired January 29, 2001 - 2:06 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Officials from DaimlerChrysler confirmed that they are cutting the company's North American workforce by as much as 20 percent. Today's news comes after nearly two years of tumbling stock prices and flagging auto sales.

One of the world's largest automakers, DaimlerChrysler makes, of course, Mercedes, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Plymouth among others.

Here's a look at the automobile plants affected over the next three years: 26,000 employees will be cut at four U.S. and three Canadian plants.

CNN's Jeff Flock is standing by outside the Dodge Neon plant in Belvidere, Illinois -- Jeff.

JEFF FLOCK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, Joie, an exceedingly nasty day here near the Wisconsin/Illinois border in Belvidere.

This is the Neon plant. This is where they make the Plymouth, Chrysler and Dodge Neon plant.

We've been running down the numbers since we talked to you last hour. Let me clarify a couple of things.

They used to operate three shifts at this plant. They're already down to two shifts. And presumably as a result of the reductions and the restructuring, down then to one shift.

They turn about 1,000 Neons out a day. At least they have the capability of doing that. But already, they have been reducing their numbers already.

Now, as to the numbers of workers, and who and when they will be affected. We are told by the company that anyone who's eligible for early retirement, a part of this 26,000 layoffs, would be told by February 6th. That's next week. Anyone, then, who took the early retirement would go and be bought out. Then they will take determinations about layoffs. They will tell anyone who's going to be laid off. They'll make that notification by March 31st.

Now, as to numbers, the company's announced that it intends to lay off about 26,000 corkers. They tell us that they have about 28 1/2 thousand workers, companywide, who are eligible for early retirement. If everyone takes early retirement, who's eligible, theoretically, there would be no layoffs. But they don't expect it to come down that way.

But again, they'll make those early retirement notifications on February 6th. And on the 31st of March is when the layoffs will actually come down.

Again, about 3100 workers here still unclear exactly how many will be affected.

That is the latest from the Belvidere assembly plant, the Neon plant here near the Wisconsin/Illinois border -- forgot where I was.

Joie, back to you.

CHEN: All right, CNN's Jeff Flock in Belvidere, Illinois.

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