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DaimlerChrysler Announces Layoffs

Aired January 29, 2001 - 4:01 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: DaimlerChrysler announced today major layoffs for its North American operations. The number three automaker in this country says that it plans to eliminate 26,000 jobs over the next three years, 20 percent of the work force at its U.S.-based Chrysler subsidiary. Plants in six U.S. and Canadian cities will be cutting production and laying off workers. Jeff Flock is standing by at one of the affected plants; that is in Belvidere, Illinois -- Jeff.

JEFF FLOCK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Joie, it's difficult to conceive of a worst day in Belvidere, Illinois. This is not too far from the Wisconsin-Illinois border; we are perched out here along Interstate 90, and back here behind me, you see what they call "home of the Neon." This is where they make all of the Chrysler, Plymouth and Dodge Neons. It's an awful day: rain and blowing, freezing rain, sleet, not pretty at all.

Not pretty on the inside, either, where about 3,100 workers are currently employed, making the Neon ,and it's unclear at this hour, still, just how many of them will get layoffs. Here are the numbers as we know them: they are talking, company wide, about 26,000 layoffs, although they say, that if all of the workers who take early retirement, take it, in fact -- opt to take it, and then perhaps the layoffs may be minimal.

Here is what we do know about this plant. Currently, they operate two shifts; they're going to down to one shift. They had been making about, as of December of '99, about 13 1/2 thousand Neons a month this past December. They'd already reduced to 8 1/2 thousand Neons a month, and now, where they go from here is unclear.

Here is the timetable that the company and the union seems to agree is fairly solid. That is, those people who are eligible for early retirement will be informed about that on February 6th. After they find out how many people actually, in fact, accept the buy out, they will then begin the layoff process; they expect that to happen by the 31st of March. So, within a week, the first of the people who will be leaving this plant -- the 3,100 workers now here -- will be getting the notice. We'll continue to watch it for now. A lousy day on the Wisconsin-Illinois border. I am Jeff Flock, CNN, reporting live.

CHEN: Jeff Flock, thanks very much.

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