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Fiat Chrysler laying off nearly 1,400 workers at Illinois plant

Fiat Chrysler

Fiat Chrysler has announced it is laying off almost 1,400 hourly workers at an assembly plant in Belvidere, Illinois, that makes Jeep Cherokees - a move the automaker said is unrelated to a major investment in the Detroit area that could add 6,500 workers.

The automaker made the announcement about Belvidere on Tuesday, shortly after announcing the $4.5 billion Michigan investment that includes a new Detroit assembly plant. Company spokeswoman Jodi Tinson said they are "two separate, distinct actions."

Tinson said the northern Illinois plant is the global manufacturing hub for Cherokees and "it's feeling the softening demand of Cherokee in the global marketplace."

Tinson said that means demand for the Cherokee has declined outside the United States. But she would not name the specific countries where this has happened.

The plant will continue with the remaining 3,760 workers.

Tinson said the job cuts will result in the elimination of one of the three shifts at the plant.

She said starting on May 6, "we'll be running the plant five days a week, 16 hours a day, two shifts each day."

"The company will make every effort to place indefinitely laid off hourly employees from Belvidere in open, full time positions as they become available, based on seniority," said Tinson. "But it's important to understand that we have a long time before the new jobs in Michigan will become available."

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