U.S. News

Chrysler fires 13 over lunch beer drinking report

DETROIT (Reuters) - Chrysler Group on Monday fired 13 workers at the same auto plant visited by President Barack Obama this summer, after a local television station report showed some of them drinking on their lunch breaks.

New cars are seen at a parking lot next to a Chrysler plant in Detroit, Michigan December 10, 2008. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Two other workers were suspended for a month without pay, the automaker said in a statement.

Acting on a tip, a Detroit Fox News affiliate’s cameras and reporter captured workers from the Chrysler Jefferson North Assembly Plant drinking beer and, in some cases, smoking what appeared to be hand-rolled cigarettes.

The Fox station in Detroit said in a broadcast last week that it began its investigation of the lunchtime activities of some workers at a park near the plant in Detroit within days of Obama’s July 30 visit.

“It has been determined that 13 employees engaged in behavior that violated the company’s standards of conduct and these 13 employees were discharged today,” Chrysler said in the statement.

The story caused much discussion on Detroit area radio stations, with some callers expressing outrage at the workers who returned to work after the lunch breaks and others criticizing the TV station for airing the report.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is made at the plant. Chrysler said redundant control systems within the Jefferson North plant ensured quality.

“It should be clear that Chrysler Group will not tolerate such behavior and will continue to evaluate its protocols to ensure that something like this does not happen again,” Chrysler said.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is the first major all-new vehicle to be introduced by Chrysler since last year’s bankruptcy and bailout by the federal government.

“It is unfortunate that the actions of a few people have called into question the reputation of more than 51,000 very proud, hard-working Chrysler Group employees, grateful that the (U.S.) and Canadian taxpayers gave us a second chance,” the company said.

“We take that responsibility very seriously and will work to restore the public’s faith.”

Chrysler is under the management control of Italy’s Fiat SpA.

Reporting by Bernie Woodall; editing by Jonathan Oatis