Nearly 1,400 people to lose jobs as Belvidere Chrysler moves to two shifts in May

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BELVIDERE, Ill. (WIFR) -- A spokesperson for FCA Group on behalf of the Belvidere Chrysler plant says the company is eliminating its C-shift and changing back to two-shift operations.

According to a statement from FCA Spokesperson Jodi Tinson, nearly 1,400 workers will lose jobs from the change.

Tinson says this does not mean job losses outside of standard layoffs. The scheduling changes will take effect May 6.

Here is the FCA Group's full statement:

"In order to better align production with global demand at its Belvidere Assembly Plant, FCA notified the state of Illinois, the city of Belvidere and the UAW today that it intends to return the plant to a traditional two shift operation, beginning May 6, 2019. This action will affect 1,371 people. The Company will make every effort to place indefinitely laid off hourly employees in open full-time positions as they become available based on seniority."

FCA North America also announced plans for to expand production at five plants in Michigan and build a new assembly line within Detroit city limits. This would create around 6,500 jobs in Michigan.

Belvidere city leaders are looking to what is ahead after the announcement.

"China now has their own plant that manufactures the Cherokee for China, so guess where the drop off is?" said Belvidere Mayor Mike Chamberlain. "China is the most populous, affluent country that we would've been shipping to, so that's a significant drop."

Because of the plant's role in the community, the impact from the layoffs is undeniable.

"It's the core of our industrial infrastructure, but it's more than that. It's the number one employer in the region."

But there is hope. Economic development leaders say workers have options.

"Employers have been saying for the past year since our unemployment numbers have been down that they're looking for some qualified skills and some help," said Growth Dimensions Executive Director Pamela Lopez-Fettes.

"All of a sudden we've got 1,300 skilled workers that need work," Chamberlain added. "This can be looked at as an asset that we have in place already."

23 News reached out to UAW 1268, the union connected to the plant. They have yet to get back to us with a comment.

For anyone in need of a job in Boone County, the Workforce Connection is holding a hiring event on March 19 from 2 p.m. until 6 at the Community Building Complex of Boone County located at 111 West First Street in Belvidere.