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1800 jobs for Belvidere

by Bill Cawthon on

Chrysler Group LLC announced today that it will add about 1,800 jobs at its Belvidere Assembly Plant. The hiring includes workers for a third crew and hundreds of jobs the company needs to fill by the third quarter of 2012 for production of the Dodge Dart.

With these new jobs, the Company will have added nearly 4,000 hourly position in the U.S. since the formation of the new company in June 2009. In total, Chrysler has grown by nearly 10,000 employees since emerging from bankruptcy.

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne confirmed the plans this morning during a ceremony at the plant with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Belvidere Mayor Frederic Brereton, UAW Region 4 Director Ron McInroy and hundreds of current employees. The last time Belvidere ran three shifts was in March 2008 when there were about 3,600 employees. When all hiring is complete, the employee population will be more than 4,500.

In addition to the jobs announcement, Marchionne acknowledged that the previously announced $600 million investment in a new 638,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art body shop had grown to nearly $700 million. The investment also included the installation of new machinery, tooling and material handling equipment exclusively for the production of the Dart.

“It was not by chance that we chose Belvidere to make this investment and build the new Dodge Dart,” Marchionne told employees. “Our decision is evidence of the faith we have in your level of commitment and your passion to deliver great products for our customers. You have been essential in our ability to author a remarkable story of recovery.

“I want to thank Governor Quinn, Mayor Brereton and the UAW for working with us to bring jobs, investment and a new product to this area,” said Marchionne. “With their help and this dedicated workforce, we are creating a work environment here in Belvidere that is dedicated to quality, and with the flexibility to compete with the best plants anywhere in the world.”

“This announcement is proof that America’s auto industry is indeed back,” said General Holiefield, Vice President, UAW Chrysler Department. “With the continued commitment and hard work of its UAW-represented workers, Chrysler will continue to add more good manufacturing jobs and introduce more industry-leading vehicles, securing the future for the Company and its entire workforce.”

The new jobs will be added as part of an innovative operating pattern that allows the plant to run an additional 49 days per year. The 3-2-120 schedule, as the operating pattern is called, utilizes three crews, working four 10-hour straight-time days per week for a total of 120 hours of production time. A typical two shift production schedule provides 80 hours per week of production time. Compared to a traditional plant schedule, individual employees on a 3-2-120 schedule work 49 fewer days per year, but the plant operates 49 more days.

Interested in being part of the new crew at Belvidere? You can apply online at For salaried and skilled trades positions, visit

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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