Chrysler set to close four plants

Bankrupt automaker identified four facilities set to shut down by end of 2010 in its Chapter 11 filing; almost 5,000 jobs at risk.

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By Chris Isidore, senior writer

The Sterling Heights assembly plant is one of four Chrysler plants identified to be closed in a bankruptcy court filing Friday.

NEW YORK ( -- Bankrupt automaker Chrysler LLC identified four plants with almost 5,000 jobs between them slated for closure by the end of next year, according to a filing with the bankruptcy court Friday.

The plants on the chopping block are the Sterling Heights, Mich., assembly plant that makes the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger; the St. Louis North assembly plant that builds the Dodge Ram pickup; the Twinsburg, Ohio stamping plant and an engine plant in Kenosha, Wisc.

The St. Louis plant could close as soon as this September, while the Twinsburg plant is slated to close by March. The Kenosha plant would be shut in October 2010 while Sterling Heights would close in December 2010.

While the Chrysler media site lists almost 4,700 jobs at those four plants, company spokesman Ed Garsten said the company is not announcing job cuts as part of the filing. He said the company could transfer these workers to new facilities depending on how fast it starts production of new Fiat cars for the North American market.

In addition, the filing identified the Detroit Axle plant as being closed, but that facility, which employs about 1,650 workers, was previously set for closure. Most of the workers are expected to be transferred to a more efficient plant now under construction, Garsten said.

The Conner Avenue plant in Detroit, where 115 workers make the niche Viper muscle car, will not stay with the company after bankruptcy, according to the filing. But Chrysler had already said that the Viper model and the plant were up for sale.

A plant in Newark, Del. and another one St. Louis that are already closed will not be part of the company after it emerges from bankruptcy either.

The company has just under 39,000 U.S. employees who are affected by the company's bankruptcy filing Thursday. Chrysler also said in its filing that 23 plants in North America will remain following the company's exit from bankruptcy.

The company and the United Auto Workers union filed petitions to keep the new labor deal, ratified by membership late Wednesday, while the company is in bankruptcy.

But virtually all of Chrysler's plants will be shut down for the 30 to 60 day period that the company expects to be in bankruptcy. During that time, Chrysler will work to close a deal to join with Italian automaker Fiat. Workers will be paid about 80% of their normal pay during this temporary layoff. To top of page

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