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Chrysler Layoffs Leave Many Waiting And Wondering

November 9, 1987

DETROIT (AP) _ Chrysler Corp.’s stepped-up trimming of its white-collar work force climaxes this week when the last of 3,600 employees receive layoff notices, but many already have gotten the devastating news.

″It’s on Fridays that the tears really fall around here,″ when laid-off workers say goodbye and take home armfuls of possessions, said a security guard who for years has watched the comings and goings of workers at Amtek, AMC’s research and product development center in Detroit.

Chrysler’s purchase of American Motors Corp. in August added AMC’s 5,700 white-collar workers to its own 32,300 white-collar payroll of secretaries, engineers, designers and computer programmers.

The No. 3 automaker originally said it would pare the white-collar staff over 1 1/2 years. But after the stock market’s October collapse, Chairman Lee Iacocca said it was necessary to lay off 3,500 white-collar employees by year’s end.

Chrysler officials later raised the number to 3,600, and promised that all would know their fate by Wednesday.

Some targeted workers already have heard the news from supervisors, who apparently felt it was kinder to let those who were losing their jobs know as soon as possible.

Iacocca and other Chrysler executives have said the cuts will come from the pre-merger AMC and Chrysler staffs, but many in the first wave are coming from the 1,800 white-collar workers at Amtek.

Even AMC workers who have received written job offers from Chrysler aren’t sure those won’t be cut. Some offers have been rescinded, said workers who refused to be identified, saying they didn’t want to jeopardize their job prospects.

Many of the workers expressed little doubt about being able to find other jobs, but said they were prepared to take pay cuts.

Engine designer Dennis Cinco said he quickly found work as an outside contractor for General Motors Corp. and is making more money than before Chrysler laid him off.

″They terminated me three weeks ago. I’m a designer. It’s easy to get a job. Secretaries aren’t going to be able to run out and get a job,″ he said.

Chrysler spokesman John Guiniven said the layoffs should not reflect poorly on any of the workers who are laid off.

In addition to the 3,600 workers being laid off, Chrysler also is trimming outside contractors from the Amtek staff. Although they are not part of the regular payroll and benefit program, some contractors have worked for Amtek for years and some work for contracting firms whose lone client is Amtek.

The contractors say they have been getting little advance notice.

″I was notified Monday that my last day was Friday,″ Mike Malczewski, 27, an engineering contractor, said last week.

Malczewski was hired four months ago to work on the two-door Allure version of the Eagle Premier sedan. Chrysler decided last month to cancel the Allure, and delayed the early 1990s introduction of the new Jeep ZJ by at least a year. Those decisions resulted in many of the Amtek cuts.

″I get to go back out in the street so I can pay my bills,″ Malczewski said. ″Sure, I will find another job someplace, sometime.″

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