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Published: Friday, 6/16/2006

Company confirms third shift for Jeep

After more than a week of silence and years of expectation, DaimlerChrysler AG officially announced yesterday it will start a third shift this summer at its five-year-old home of the Jeep Liberty.

About 750 jobs will be added at the 2,700-plus-employee factory, which will begin building the Dodge Nitro in August. Hourly spots will be filled by current or laid-off Toledo Jeep Assembly workers, the Jeep leader of United Auto Workers Local 12 said.

The Blade reported June 6 that Chrysler confirmed with the union that the third shift would begin Aug. 7, the same day that Nitro production is to begin.

Chrysler said yesterday the addition of a third shift at the Toledo Jeep complex coincides with Nitro production, part of a $2.1 billion expansion at Toledo Jeep, but the automaker did not specify a start date.

Chrysler spokesman Michele Tinson could not be reached for comment.

Although jobs are being added, about 270 temporary part-timers will not have permanent work until attrition creates openings, said Dan Henneman, chairman of Local 12's Jeep unit. The union has been negotiating buyouts with Chrysler for 250 skilled tradesmen, he said.

Chrysler has invested $600 million to build the Nitro. It added 160,000 square feet of floor space and installed more than 150 robots.

Next door, Chrysler and two suppliers have built a $900 million multifactory plant that will begin building redesigned Jeep Wranglers on one shift next month. Chrysler will have 300 hourly workers at its factory, which will perform final assembly and testing, when that operation goes to two shifts in September, Mr. Henneman said.

The Toledo Jeep complex is between Chrysler Drive and Stickney Avenue, north of I-75.

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