Monday, June 1, 2009

GM Plant Closings: Latest Round Hits Michigan Hardest

As General Motors Corp. on Monday named the operations it would close or put on standby as it headed into bankruptcy, Michigan learned it would be taking the brunt of the bad news.

The list includes a truck assembly plant shuttered in Pontiac and engine and transmission plants shut down in Flint, Livonia and Willow Run. A Grand Rapids stamping plant also will close.

An Orion assembly plant will be placed on standby, as will a stamping plant in Pontiac.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm told CNN Monday that Michigan already has lost hundreds of thousands of automotive jobs and will be hurt by the bankruptcy.

She says "it's going to be a tough summer." Some GM workers already are on extended layoffs as the automaker trims production because of lower sales.


Half of the 14 plants GM plans to close or put on standby between now and the end of 2010 are in Michigan. 

The list includes a truck assembly plant shuttered in Pontiac and engine and transmission plants shut down in Flint, Livonia and Willow Run. A Grand Rapids stamping plant also will close. Oakland County's Orion Township assembly plant will be placed on standby, as will a stamping plant in Pontiac. 

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm told 
CNN Monday that Michigan already has lost hundreds of thousands of automotive jobs and will be hurt by the bankruptcy. "During this summer, it's going to be really, really tough in Michigan. There are thousands of people who will be affected by the filing today and the restructuring," she said. Granholm planned to hold a news conference Monday afternoon to talk about GM's announcement and its effect on the state. 

Thousands of people also were expected to gather on the lawn of the state Capitol in Lansing for a "Reinvest in America" rally with the
Rev. Jesse Jackson, Michigan Sen.Debbie Stabenow and mayors from several Michigan cities that are affected by the bankruptcies of GM and Chrysler LLC

Some GM workers already are on extended layoffs as the automaker trims production because of lower sales. And auto suppliers are increasingly sliding into bankruptcy as all auto companies -- not just troubled GM and Chrysler -- struggle to lure reluctant buyers into their showrooms. 

A few bright spots did emerge as GM laid out its consolidation plans. GM will begin building the Chevrolet Traverse crossover SUV at GM's Delta Township plant just west of Lansing, where the popular Buick Enclave, Saturn Outlook and GMC Acadia are made. The Traverse now is assembled in Spring Hill, Tenn. 

And the Michigan plant in Orion Township, north of 
Detroit, that was placed on standby because GM is phasing out production of the Pontiac brand could be in line to produce some other model down the road. About 3,190 workers now produce the Pontiac G6 at that plant. Also placed on standby is a stamping plant in Pontiac that employs 829 hourly workers. 

"GM's Orion plant and the Pontiac stamping plant are excellent facilities uniquely situated to build GM's new small, fuel efficient car," U.S. Rep.
Gary Peters, whose Michigan district includes Pontiac and part of Orion Township, said in a release. "The plants are close in proximity to key auto suppliers and advanced technology component manufacturing." 

U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, a longtime auto industry advocate, said Michigan needs help weathering the meltdown. 

"GM employees -- white- and blue-collar -- suppliers, dealers, and auto communities will be hit hard by this process," he said in a release. "Now more than ever, we need to come together to develop and enhance training programs for our displaced workers so that they get back into the work force quickly." 

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