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Up to 1,000 Wisconsinites lose their jobs if Chrysler cuts ties with 18 state dealerships

Up to 1,000 Wisconsinites would lose their jobs if Chrysler gets its way.

The automaker announced plans Thursday to stop selling new vehicles at 18 state dealerships, as the firm re-organizes itself under Chapter-11 bankruptcy.

Nationally, Chrysler plans to close almost a quarter of its 3,200 shops.

Bill Sepic of the Wisconsin Auto and Truck Dealers Association says the Chrysler cancellations put 750 to 1,000 state jobs at risk, and up to 3,000 jobs could be gone after General Motors announces its dealership reductions.

That's expected today. And with GM planning to end 42 percent of its dealer contracts, almost 60 shops in the Badger State could be put at risk.

Meanwhile, some of the Chrysler dealers won't take their fates lying down.

Russ Darrow says both he and Don Miller have Madison dealerships on the cutting block, but he says Chrysler still plans to sell cars there, so there's still room for negotiation.

Meanwhile, the Larsen Auto Center in Frederic, population 1,200, could lose both its Chrysler and GM sales agreements.

Owner Terry Larsen says if that happens, his northwest Wisconsin community will fold up, since his dealership is the main business.

He says dealers are independent businesses that should be allowed to succeed or fail on their own.

Larsen can't understand why the government is spending millions in stimulus money to create jobs while letting major employers and leaders in their communities go under.