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Published: Saturday, 5/2/2009

Chrysler shutdown forcing layoffs at its area suppliers

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Scores of direct and indirect suppliers to Chrysler's Toledo Jeep Assembly complex and the Toledo Machining plant in Perrysburg Township were dramatically slowing down or ceasing their own production lines Friday, potentially throwing thousands more on the unemployment rolls.

Most of the suppliers contacted by The Blade Friday were doing what Faurecia North America was doing: laying off hourly employees and waiting to see when Chrysler would return to making SUVs in Toledo.

"Chrysler is a key customer for Faurecia's Toledo-area operations. Faurecia has laid off approximately 60 associates in order to respond to changes in the customer's production schedule," company spokesman Stacie Tong said.

"We will be updating employees as additional information becomes available."

Other area suppliers contacted did not release plans for layoffs, but experts say the ripple effect will be wide and could result in some supply companies going out of business.

The Blade estimated that about 3,000 area supplier employees will be affected by the Chrysler shutdown, on top of about 3,000 local Chrysler workers collecting unemployment benefits.

A senior sales manager at New Mather Metals, a Chrysler supplier in the Toledo area, said he won't know until tomorrow how the automaker's shutdown plans will affect his operations.

The company makes vehicle stabilizer bars for several automakers and employs about 80 workers, but only about 10 percent of its production is for Chrysler, Wesley Valley said.

Generally, New Mather gets work orders for the upcoming weeks on Sundays, then decides on Mondays what production needs will be for the week.

New Mather also is a supplier for General Motors Corp., which has said it will shut down several plants for up to eight weeks.

Losing both GM and Chrysler work could cause temporary layoffs at New Mather, Mr. Valley said.

"We're hoping we stay open, but we doubt that will happen," he added.

Chrysler, meanwhile, moved up its plant shutdown schedule yesterday, which had called for the production halt to begin Monday.

Instead, second-shift workers at Chrysler's Toledo plant, which makes Jeep Wranglers, were told yesterday morning not to report to work.

Similar instructions were made at other Chrysler plants nationally, including at the machining plant in suburban Toledo.

Workers at the Toledo assembly factory which makes the Jeep Liberty and Dodge Nitro already were on layoff.

United Auto Workers officials were told late Thursday to expect the shutdown to last a minimum of five weeks.

The plan is to have the company emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy within two months.

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at:

lvellequette@theblade.com

or 419-724-6091



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