Deja vu: workers, call the Free Press; don't come in with agun

Charles Brown CharlesB at SPAMCNCL.ci.detroit.mi.us
Fri Mar 16 08:18:38 MST 2001



The DC ax falls today

2,700 white collars to get the bad news: 'Laid off'
March 16, 2001


"Jim and other workers told the Free Press they are concerned about possible workplace
violence in response to the layoffs. "Everyone's scared," he said. "People keep
thinking someone's going to come in with a gun."


On Thursday, a firecracker was set off at his building and someone defecated in an
elevator, he said."



BY JAMIE BUTTERS
DETROIT FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER



At Auburn Hills, the waiting is almost over.


Most of the Chrysler Group's 2,700 white-collar layoffs are expected to come today,
two weeks before the company's self-imposed March 30 deadline.

YOUR STORY?

The Detroit Free Press is looking for DaimlerChrysler employees who are laid off, or
colleagues, willing to talk about their experiences.


Those interested can call (313) 222-6731 or send an email to dcx at freepress.com.

Spokespersons for the U.S. arm of DaimlerChrysler AG would not confirm that today is
D-Day for layoffs, but several workers who spoke to the Free Press said today is the
day.


An Auburn Hills worker said she had been told company computers would be shut down
Thursday afternoon and a designer at the Jeep and Truck Engineering facility in
Detroit said workers were told their ID swipe cards would get them in the building
only one time today.


Nonunion salaried employees are scheduled for 15-minute one-on-one meetings with a
manager who will tell them their fate, employees said. Those laid off will be escorted
from the building.


To help laid-off workers get back on their feet, Chrysler convinced the state to offer
special stress-management and financial-planning classes on top of the standard
job-search help.


The Chrysler Group announced Jan. 29 plans to eliminate 25,800 jobs -- about 20
percent of its workforce -- as part of a three-year restructuring.


Most of the job cuts, which include 19,500 hourly positions, are scheduled to come
this year. The company has said that most of the rest of the job cuts -- 5,000
salaried and 1,300 contract positions -- will be done by the end of March.


About 2,300 salaried workers accepted early-retirement packages last month, said
spokeswoman Jodi Tinson. In order to meet the 5,000 job threshold, about 2,700 more
positions will be cut. That means layoffs without a reasonable hope of returning to
work as the automaker deals with bloated inventories and declining market share.


Monica Emerson, DaimlerChrysler staffing director, said the laid-off workers should be
able to find work again soon.


Several companies, including Toyota Motor Sales and suppliers Visteon Corp. and
ArvinMeritor, have contacted DaimlerChrysler trying to hire newly available workers,
she said.


"They recognize that this downsizing is a result of a variety of reasons that these
employees had nothing to do with," she said.


Salaried workers who are laid off will receive health care benefits and a percentage
of their pay for an undisclosed period of time. The percentages will be determined by
years of service and whether workers are members of unions, Emerson said. One 18-year
employee, who did not want to be identified, said she expects to receive partial pay
and benefits for two years.


Those who lose their jobs will be eligible for standard job-hunting help with
resume-writing, job banks and access to business machines through state and local
government agencies at the Troy Career Center.


Located in a wing of the Nile Center school building at 201 W. Square Lake Road, the
career center will also provide stress-management and financial-planning help in group
or individual settings, said program coordinator Kevin Finn.


In addition to the 20 regular Troy staffers, the center is borrowing help from
Southfield, Oak Park and Waterford offices. "They're here right now," Finn said.


Laid-off workers face a "tough and scary" personal crossroads, he said, but the need
for educated and experienced workers is still unprecedented in the region, he said.


"The number of phone calls is just incredible," said Finn, who is organizing an April
24 job fair for DaimlerChrysler workers.


DaimlerChrysler is trying to communicate to dismissed workers and those who remain
that they are all valued, Emerson said.


"It is critically important to us that all of our employees are treated with dignity
and respect," she said.


But those feelings have been in short supply lately.


Jim, a salaried union designer at Jeep and Truck Engineering in Detroit, said that he
has learned that 30 of the 305 union designers will be laid off today. The union --
which told members not to give their last names to reporters -- plans to file a
grievance on the basis that few supplemental contract employees will lose their jobs,
he said.


DaimlerChrysler spokesman Trevor Hale said the automaker has been careful to stay
within the bounds of the contract.


Jim and other workers told the Free Press they are concerned about possible workplace
violence in response to the layoffs. "Everyone's scared," he said. "People keep
thinking someone's going to come in with a gun."


On Thursday, a firecracker was set off at his building and someone defecated in an
elevator, he said.


DaimlerChrysler spokeswoman Tinson said the company has taken "every reasonable
precaution to protect the safety and security of our workforce."






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