Chrysler set to reopen most plants

Production at 7 of 11 assembly lines will restart later this month, sending most employees back to work for the first time since Chrysler filed for bankruptcy.

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By Chris Isidore, senior writer

Chrysler's Sterling Heights Assembly plant is due to reopen the week of June 29 for the first time since the company filed for bankruptcy. But it could close for good by next year.

NEW YORK ( -- Chrysler announced plans to reopen 7 of its 11 assembly lines later this month for the first time since the day after the company filed for bankruptcy in April.

The company said two plants in Michigan, one in St. Louis and one in Toledo will reopen during the week of June 29. Two factories in Ontario, Canada will also reopen as well as one in Mexico.

The seven plants make a variety of Chrysler vehicles, including the Dodge Grand Caravan, Jeep Wrangler and the Chrysler Town & Country.

In addition, the company is reopening several factories that make powertrains, axles and other components used by the assembly plants. Chrysler's parts distribution centers, which supply parts to both plants and dealerships, will also reopen.

Three assembly lines -- one in Illinois, one in Detroit and another in Mexico -- will remain shut for the time being. Those plants employ about 5,000 workers between them.

All told, Chrysler currently has about 38,000 production workers in the U.S., both hourly and salaried, and employs another 9,000 in Canada and 5,000 in Mexico. So most of Chrysler's workforce will be returning to their jobs later this month.

But virtually all of Chrysler's plants are due to shutdown again for normal summer retooling, which will take place during the weeks of July 13 and 20.

And four of the company's 30 plants are slated to close permanently by next year as Chrysler makes permanent reductions in its capacity. Chrysler has said one of those plants scheduled to close, the one in St. Louis, could be shut down as soon as this September.

Chrysler filed for bankruptcy on April 30 and halted most operations a day later as it sought to reorganize its operations, complete a combination with Italian automaker Fiat, and work through an excess inventory of vehicles. The bankruptcy court approved its deal with Fiat last week.

So far, the only assembly line that has been restarted was the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant in Detroit, where 115 people make the Dodge Viper niche muscle car. Chrysler is looking to sell that facility.  To top of page

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