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Chrysler to lay off thousands of salaried workers, cut 750 job at Ohio plant

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Chrysler LLC began laying off thousands of salaried workers Wednesday as part of an effort to slash costs in the company's new era of private ownership, a spokesman said.

The cuts won't end there. Chrysler planned to announce Thursday that the third shift at the Toledo North plant in Ohio will be eliminated in the first quarter of 2008, a reduction of 750 jobs, according to a congressional aide with knowledge of the announcement.

The Toledo plant makes the Jeep Liberty and wasn't part of recent contract talks between the United Auto Workers union and Chrysler because it has a separate contract.

Chrysler spokesman Mike Aberlich said about one-third of the company's temporary workers will be laid off in the next few months, along with other salaried workers. Aberlich didn't disclose the number of workers that will be affected, but a person briefed on the plan said 1,000 salaried workers and 1,100 temporary workers _ who work in engineering, finance, procurement and other areas _ will be laid off.

The layoffs of temporary workers began Wednesday and will be completed by December. Salaried workers will be eligible for early retirement and separation packages beginning next month, said the person, who like the congressional aide requested anonymity because the plan has not yet been announced.

The white-collar cuts come on top of the 13,000 layoffs Chrysler announced in February as part of a massive restructuring plan. Those cuts included 11,000 production workers, such as those in Toledo, and 2,000 salaried employees who also were offered buyouts or early retirement packages.

Chrysler became a private company in August when Germany's Daimler AG sold 80.1 per cent of Chrysler to the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP. Chrysler's new chief executive, Bob Nardelli, has said the automaker is focused on raising cash for its turnaround.

Nardelli and Chrysler vice-chairman Tom LaSorda didn't elaborate on the layoffs Wednesday during a trip to Washington to meet with lawmakers and the Bush administration on energy legislation, including upgrades to fuel economy regulations.

Nardelli said the final decision on the cuts came Tuesday during Chrysler's first board meeting as a private company. ``Those are within the confines of the board and the board's decisions,'' he said of the layoffs.

Nardelli said the board meeting went well. He refused to say whether the board approved expected cuts in Chrysler's vehicle lineup.

``It's an interesting transition from public to private. I think that it was a very productive session for all of us,'' Nardelli said.

Chrysler and other automakers have opposed a U.S. Senate plan that would increase fuel economy standards 40 per cent to a combined 35 miles per gallon for cars and trucks by 2020. Several automakers support an alternative that would mandate 32 to 35 mpg by 2022 and maintain separate requirements for cars and trucks.

``We're all hoping that we're going to have a reasonable compromise. These folks make trucks and they do a great job so we want to make sure Chrysler is strong,'' said Senator Debbie Stabenow, (D-Mich.), who joined Senators Carl Levin (D-Mich.), George Voinovich (R-Ohio), and Kit Bond (R-Mo.), in a Chrysler meeting.

Nardelli said he was ``down making some new friends and visiting some old'' while discussing a broad range of issues affecting Chrysler.

``It's important, I think, for me to listen and learn and try to come up the learning curve right now,'' he said.

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Chrysler to lay off thousands of salaried workers, cut 750 job at Ohio plant
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