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Published: Thursday, 5/12/2011

Chrysler could add 3,000 jobs

UAW official asserts shifts might be added at 3 plants

BLOOMBERG NEWS

DETROIT -- Chrysler Group LLC may hire more than 3,000 workers and add production shifts at plants in Michigan and Illinois in coming months to increase sales of some of its most popular vehicles, a United Auto Workers official said.

The three additional shifts, each accounting for about 1,000 jobs, would be at plants in Detroit and Sterling Heights, Mich., and Belvidere, Ill., said General Holiefield, the UAW vice president in charge of Chrysler.

"There have been indications that they would love to put on a third shift, but it's all tied to volume and the demand," Mr. Holiefield said of the plants.

Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne boosted Chrysler's global sales 18 percent through April and posted a first-quarter net profit of $116 million, its first since emerging from bankruptcy in 2009. He is seeking to refinance debts to the U.S. and Canadian government this quarter, letting Fiat SpA raise its ownership stake to 46 percent from 30 percent.

Jodi Tinson, a spokesman for the automaker, declined to comment on the possibility of additional shifts and hiring.

The Michigan and Illinois factories each have two shifts and together employ 7,000 hourly workers, according to Chrysler's Web site.

Mr. Holiefield said he hopes shifts would be added "between now and early summer" because there is potential for Chrysler to boost vehicle sales.

Chrysler may need to hike production of the Grand Cherokee, given its success in the United States and its potential overseas, said Mike Jackson, head of North American vehicle forecasting at IHS Automotive in Northville, Mich.

As part of its efforts to increase jobs, the UAW wants Chrysler to make more of its own components, Mr. Holiefield said.

"We have made ourselves competitive throughout the manufacturing landscape, where there are supplier industries out there that don't do as good a job as we do now," he said. "It would be lucrative to bring that work in-house."



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