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June 26, 2008

More than 2,200 workers at the Toledo Jeep Assembly complex will off work for two months because of dismal sales of the Jeep Liberty and Dodge Nitro, United Auto Workers officials said today.

Workers were notified this morning that Chrysler LLC planned to suspend production of the Liberty and Nitro immediately after the normal shutdown week, which was to begin July 4. The second shift of workers making the Liberty and Nitro may be laid off beginning Monday.

Barring a dramatic turnaround in sales, workers won’t be called back to work at the plant until at least Aug. 25, officials from UAW Local 12 said.

Chrysler said this week that the Liberty and Nitro would be closed for the weeks of July 7 and 14 and the Wrangler plant for the week of July 14.

The complex is scheduled to begin production of 2009 model Liberty and Nitros at 9:45 p.m. Friday and will build about 100 of the vehicles for testing purposes before shutting down the lines, said Jeep UAW leader Dan Henneman.

Another 1,100 union workers at the next-door Wrangler factories will be off only for the week of July 14, which was a scheduled model changeover time, Mr. Henneman said. All scheduled overtime for those factories has been eliminated for the next two months, he said.

Laid off workers are being offered the opportunity to transfer to other Chrysler plants in Belvidere, Ill., Kenosha, Wis., and other facilities that are making higher-mileage, better selling vehicles.

Chrysler spokesman Ed Saenz refused to confirm the layoff notice, even though workers had been told. “I’m not at liberty to discuss anything beyond the shutdown. After July 21 and past, I can’t comment,” Mr. Saenz said.

LINK: -- Toledo Jeep workers to be laid off for 7 weeks
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