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Chrysler to Lay Off Thousands of Workers

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Chrysler to Lay Off Thousands of Workers

Economy

Chrysler to Lay Off Thousands of Workers

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

In Detroit, Chrysler announced that its sales dropped and it's trimming back its workforce by laying off up to 10,000 hourly employees. That's in addition to the 13,000 layoffs it announced in February. This comes just days after the United Autoworkers promised to protect jobs in the new contract.

NPR's Frank Langfitt reports.

FRANK LANGFITT: Last weekend, union members narrowly ratified a controversial deal with Chrysler. Their leaders put out a booklet of highlights to sell the agreement. The headline read, Contract Protects UAW Jobs.

Mr. BRENT WARD(ph) (Employee, Chrysler Plant): I, in a sense, feel brightly hoodwinked by it all.

LANGFITT: That's Brent Word. He drives a forklift at a Chrysler plant outside Detroit, and he's a critic of union leadership.

Mr. WARD: People are thinking that their jobs were on the line and were in effect fooled into thinking that they were protected when there were actually no guarantees whatsoever in the contract.

LANGFITT: Christine Moroski, a union spokeswoman, said no one should feel fooled. She said, quote, "Union members are smart. They are aware of the problems in the industry and sales, and their impact on jobs."

In the contract, Chrysler did commit to billions of dollars worth of investment. But the company said it had to cut jobs because of falling demand.

Jason Vines is Chrysler's vice president of communications. He said the company needs to dump models like the Crossfire because not enough people are buying them each year.

Mr. JASON VINES (Vice President of Communications, Chrysler): Actually the projections of sales of that vehicle were unrealistically high. It's a limited market for a small two-seat sports car.

LANGFITT: What were the projections?

Mr. VINES: Oh, over 10,000. I think up to 20.

LANGFITT: What it's actually selling?

Mr. VINES: Five to six.

LANGFITT: Under the contract, the company can layoff workers because of reduced demand. Most will be eligible for a buyout package including a cash payment.

Frank Langfitt, NPR News.

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