Chrysler offers another 84 Kenosha plant workers a new buyout

Chrysler Group LLC has reportedly offered contract buyouts to an additional 84 employees at its engine manufacturing plant in Kenosha.

Kenosha employees who were offered buyouts have until Friday to decide if they want to accept the offer. The Kenosha plant has about 500 union and salaried employees now.

In May, the company offered early retirement contract buyouts to about 329 employees. About 196 of them took the offer. The remaining 60 to 70 employees are still working at the company, and its offer to those employees remains valid, meaning that as many as 154 workers could leave the engine plant.

Glenn Stark, United Auto Workers Local 72 president, said he has talked with Gateway Technical College about providing temporary workers, if needed, depending on the number of employees who take the buyout package.

The buyout offered to Kenosha workers is part of a larger offer to about 23,000 Chrysler employees across the country, a company spokesman said.

"As a continuation of its earlier Special Buyout Program and as a condition of the loan agreement with the U.S. Treasury, Chrysler Group has extended its Special Program offering to those newly eligible U.S. employees," said Chrysler spokesman Max Gates. "Special programs are also being offered for consideration at locations which were identified as negatively impacted during the bankruptcy.”

The buyout offer includes a special early retirement package, a lump sum payment and a voucher for Chrysler products. Employees who are not eligible for the buyout who choose voluntary termination will receive a lump sum payment and vehicle voucher.

Chrysler officials have said that the Kenosha plant will be closed at the end of 2010.

However, there remains hope that Chrysler’s new corporate parent, Fiat, might keep the plant open. Several officials from the Italian car company have toured the facility recently.

"We’re fighting everyday to keep our plant open. This last year was tough and it has been a challenge to keep our employees motivated," Stark said.

To read a recent BizTimes story about Fiat officials touring the Chrysler facility, click here.


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