Chrysler Third Shift Workers Fear for Jobs After Recent Layoffs

By: Mark Lindner
By: Mark Lindner

"Come to work every day, don't be late and you'll be fine. You'll be hired in," says Janesville, WI resident Kim Francke, who was recently laid off from the Belvidere Chrysler plant.

That's what Francke claims Union leaders told her when she was initially hired to work the third shift at the Belvidere Chrysler plant. But 89 days later...

"I'm done. Like I never existed," Francke says.

Francke was one of many third shift workers laid off by the plant. Slumping sales combined with $1.5 billion in losses during the 3rd quarter have forced the company to cut costs.

"You're hearing about layoffs and whether they're going to close the third shift or not. There was no security in that," Francke says.

Now, she is unemployed and struggling to support her two daughters.

"It's an awful feeling not knowing how you're going to put food on the table for your kids," Francke says.

Danielle Worden was hired at the same time as Francke. She was not part of the most recent round of layoffs.

"I'm thankful that I still have my job, but I'm out the door soon. It's just a matter of time," says Worden, who currently works on the third shift at Chrysler.

Both agree that a major problem is the culture of fear that exists on the shift.

"You don't know what's going to happen day to day. Everybody's got families. They're scared, they don't know what to do," Worden says.

"It's just devastating what they are doing. We're not just numbers. We are people with families and they've treated us like we're just a number, we don't matter," Francke adds.

Now, those "numbers" want to show the company how important they really are.

"We're looking to maybe walk out one day. We've been talking about it because people are scared," Worden says.

Francke tells us tonight that she and other former 3rd shift employees took the jobs under the impression that they were going to be full-time employees. They are speaking with attorneys about filing a class action lawsuit against Daimler-Chrysler claiming misrepresentation.

However, when the 3rd shift was announced, Chrysler stated those hired would be employed under two year contracts and their jobs would not be guaranteed after the contracts expired.

If you're looking for a job, area manufacturers are looking for you. They'll be at the Manufacturing Career and Job Expo this Thursday at Rock Valley College's Stenstrom Center. More than 20 manufacturing companies will be participating in the event which will also feature help sessions for job seekers and information on educational programs to help you advance your career.


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