GM's Shreveport Truck Plant will close for 1st 6 weeks of 2009

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) - General Motors Corp.'s assembly plant in Shreveport will be idle for the first six weeks of 2009 under a plan to cut production sharply amid the company's financial crisis.

Shutdowns will affect 20 GM plants making various models, the company said Friday.

The Shreveport plant currently handles the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickup trucks, along with the Hummer H3 and H3T, all of which have been hammered, first by high fuel prices earlier this year, then the economic meltdown that has dried up credit.

Further clouding the plant's future has been GM's decision to put the Hummer brand up for sale.

The plant, which once employed about 3,000 workers, is down to about 800 employees following the elimination of its second shift, which cost 798 employees their jobs.

GM said it will cut 250,000 vehicles from its production schedule for the first quarter of 2009, which includes a cut of 60,000 vehicles announced last week. Normal production would be around 750,000 cars and trucks for the quarter, spokesman Tony Sapienza said.

GM reported its sales in the U.S. plunged 41 percent in November and are down 22 percent for the first 11 months of the year compared with the same period last year.

Sapienza said the idled workers would be able to apply for state unemployment benefits and would receive supplemental company benefits that could bring them 72 percent of their normal pay.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)