It's an unstable time for Chrysler right now. The U.A.W. has told the automaker that it will consider a nationwide strike if they don't reach a contract deal by Wednesday morning. Locally the Belvidere plant began a two week shutdown Moday.
It's been two long months since floodwaters tore through Dora Rockwell's home. Now as her family struggles to pay for repairs, Rockwell has a new worry on her mind: Job security at Belvidere's Chrysler plant.
"Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that if we're not selling good. These are options they have, cut shifts, eliminate people," says Belvidere Chrysler worker Dora Rockwell.
Nationwide, Chrysler sales are down five and a half percent from this time last year. Locally, the two Jeep models produced in Belvidere are selling poorly, through August, just 36 percent of the Jeep Patriots made there found an owner. Slow sales prompted Chrysler to shut the Belvidere plant down for two weeks starting Monday.
A Chrysler representative says there are no plans to cut workers and most of the plant's 3,600 employees are being paid during the shutdown, most, but not all.
"The temporary workers are not receiving the 95 percent pay the regular, full-time employees are receiving. We are getting unemployment," says a two-year temporary Belvidere Chrysler worker, who did not want to release his name.
He says the Belvidere plant has about 600 people working under a temporary two-year contract. They don't receive full benefits or pay. They can register for unemployment during the shutdown at Belivdere's U.A.W. hall from 9:00 to 4:00 over the next two days. Once it kicks in, temps with children will get about 60 percent of their pay during the shutdown. However, if workers do have to strike, they'll all lose their unemployment or their pay.
"Yeah it's scary you don't have much money coming in, but certainly you can't just let the company say we're taking and taking and taking and not stick up for some of the things that you have and watch it go down the drain," says Rockwell.
For now, she'll keep draining the water from her house and hope she can stay afloat.
Belvidere's temporary Chrysler workers are hoping they'll be hired on as full employees in the new contract under negotiation right now. GM hired on its temporary employees in their new deal reached last week.