Facing Slow Sales, Nissan, FCA Offer Buyouts

Voluntary separation packages are being offered to hourly Nissan workers over the age of 52 at two production facilities and to hourly employees at FCA’s Belvidere, IL, plant.

Joseph Szczesny

February 5, 2020

3 Min Read
FCA Belvidere IL plant
FCA offering buyouts to workers at Jeep Cherokee assembly plant in Belvidere, IL.

Both Nissan and Fiat Chrysler will eliminate jobs in anticipation of slower sales and lower demand for vehicles as forecasters predict the auto industry will struggle to match the 17 million-plus sales pace posted in 2019.

“To adapt to current business needs and improve efficiencies, Nissan will offer voluntary separation packages to eligible U.S.-based employees. The company also is streamlining its regional sales operations to better support dealers and our customers,” Nissan says in a statement e-mailed to Wards.

Nissan spokeswoman Lloryn Love-Carter says the voluntary separation packages are being offered to production workers and salaried employees over the age of 52. In addition, the automaker plans to shutter regional sales offices in Bellevue, WA, and Denver, she says.

Production workers at Nissan’s assembly complex in Smyrna, TN, are not eligible for the program. Nor are employees at the Nissan Technical Center in Farmington, Hills, MI.

However, production workers and salaried employees at the company’s assembly plant in Canton, MS, and engine plant in Decherd, TN, are eligible for the program, as are salaried employees at Smyrna, Love-Carter says.

Employees in Nissan’s U.S. headquarters in Franklin, TN, and regional offices also are eligible for the program, which comes on the heels of a year in which the automaker’s sales dropped nearly 10%.

Meanwhile, FCA is adjusting staffing levels at its assembly plant in Belvidere, IL, which builds the Jeep Cherokee. Sales of Jeep-brand products in the U.S. fell 5% in 2019, marking the first year-over-year drop since the 2008-2009 recession. Cherokee sales fell the most – 20% last year, according to company data.

FCA eliminated the third shift at Belvidere last spring, and it has scheduled downtime at the plant for the week of Feb. 17, spokeswoman Jodi Tinson says in an e-mail.

Tinson also confirms FCA has informed about 3,900 hourly employees at Belvidere about two voluntary separation packages as outlined in the automaker’s 2019 contract with the UAW. She says the packages are being offered to create opportunities for those employees still on layoff from earlier cuts.

FCA and the UAW negotiated the selective use of buyouts during the recently concluded bargaining on a new contract. Employees have until March 11 to accept a buyout, Tinson says. Employees also may accept transfers to FCA’s assembly plant undergoing retooling in Detroit.

FCA shut down its assembly plant in Windsor, ON, Canada, for two weeks during January because of slow sales of the Chrysler Pacifica. The automaker has not scheduled any additional downtime there.

Meanwhile, General Motors has told employees at its Flint, MI, truck assembly plant the UAW has agreed to mandatory overtime on Sundays.

Each of the three shifts will rotate and work every third Sunday into April to meet demand for heavy-duty Chevrolet and GMC pickups that are still in short supply in the wake of a 40-day UAW strike last fall, company and union officials say in a memo to employees posted inside the plant.

 

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