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Originally published Friday, May 1, 2009 at 1:27 PM

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5 more Chrysler plants to close by end of 2010

Chrysler LLC said Friday that it plans to close five more of its plants by the end of 2010 as part of its plan for a quick restructuring under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

AP Auto Writer

NEW YORK —

Chrysler LLC said Friday that it plans to close five more of its plants by the end of 2010 as part of its plan for a quick restructuring under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

But the nation's No. 3 automaker said the closures don't mean that all of the workers at those plants will be losing their jobs.

"To be clear, we will be retaining substantially all of our employees with the new company, and offering those who may be displaced as a result of the restructuring opportunities at other Chrysler facilities," Chrysler said in a statement.

"We can assure our employees that we will make every effort to identify new employment opportunities within the company."

The plants include the Sterling Heights and Conner Avenue assembly plants in Michigan, and the St. Louis North assembly plant in Missouri.

The Sterling Heights plant, located in suburban Detroit, employs about 1,400 workers and produces the automaker's Sebring sedan and convertible, along with the Dodge Avenger.

The Conner Avenue plant in Detroit employs 115 people and makes the Dodge Viper and a V-10 engine, while the 1,200 workers at St. Louis North in Fenton, Mo. build Dodge Ram models.

Don Pizzo, vice president of United Auto Workers Local 110 in Fenton, said he was stunned by news of the plants' closure.

"Right now, we're clueless," Pizzo said. "When your membership asks if there's any plant closings in the future and then the next day this thing comes out, you feel like you've been slapped in the face."

Chrysler also said that its Twinsburg, Ohio, stamping plant near Cleveland, and Kenosha, Wis., engine plant will also close.

The 1,250 workers at the Twinsburg plant make stampings, assemblies and subassemblies that include hoods, quarter panels and roofs. The Kenosha plant makes V-6 engines and employs 850 people.

Twinsburg Mayor Katherine Procop said she was stunned by the decision to close plant because she was told during a conference call Thursday with Chrysler Chief Executive Robert Nardelli that the plant was going to be OK for the short term.

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"They said it was a great plant with a tremendous work force," Procop said. "I'm very disheartened."

The plants are among eight that would be left out of a deal for Italy's Fiat to buy the U.S. carmaker's most valuable assets in bankruptcy. Instead, the "new Chrysler" would lease the plants, then shutter them by December 2010.

Two other plants on the list were idled at the end of last year. Those are the St. Louis South plant, which used to make minivans, and an assembly plant in Newark, Del., that once made Dodge Durangos.

And Chrysler's Detroit Axle plant, which makes front- and rear-drive axles for the automaker's Dodge trucks and Jeep models, is already scheduled to be replaced by a new factory near Port Huron, Mich.

---

Associated Press Writers Jim Salter in St. Louis and John Seewer in Toledo, Ohio contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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