Shreveport's GM plant facing more downtime - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Shreveport's GM plant facing more downtime

DETROIT (AP) - Shreveport's GM Truck Plant, which began an almost two-month temporary shutdown at the end of December, will face an additional two-week closure at the end of March.

On Monday, GM announced the temporary shutdown for the Shreveport plant and eight others company-wide. The automaker also announced it will cut 2,000 jobs at plants in Michigan and Ohio.

GM spokesman Chris Lee said the company will eliminate the second shift at its Delta Township plant near Lansing, Mich., on March 30, and the second shift at its Lordstown, Ohio, factory will end April 6.

About 1,200 workers will be laid off at the Michigan plant, while 800 jobs will be cut in Ohio.

Lee said the cuts are part of the Detroit automaker's continuing efforts to "align production with market demand" as consumers shy away from purchasing new cars and trucks during a recession. GM is operating under an assumption shared by many analysts that the auto industry will sell 10.5 million vehicles in the U.S. in 2009, down about 20 percent from last year's sales of 13.2 million.

The plant shutdowns come about a month after GM temporarily closed 20 factories across North America due to dramatically weaker automobile demand. Some were closed for the entire month of January.

The Lordstown plant stamps parts for and assembles the Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5, two of the company's most fuel-efficient vehicles. GM started running three shifts there last year when gas prices spiked and demand for those small cars skyrocketed, but it announced last month that it would eliminate the third shift, laying off 890 workers, as U.S. auto sales fell to their slowest pace in 26 years.

The plant near Cleveland employs about 4,250 people, including 300 salaried employees, GM spokeswoman Susan Waun said last week.

The Delta Township plant employs about 3,400 hourly workers, according to GM's Web site, and makes three crossover vehicles: the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook.

Besides the job cuts, nine of GM's 15 U.S. assembly plants will have more scheduled "down weeks" in the first half of 2009, Lee said. One Canadian plant will be temporarily shut down as well.

The Lordstown and Delta Township plants are expected to come back on line from its extended holiday shutdown Feb. 2, but only will shift will operate at a time as employees alternate the weeks they work until the second shifts are eliminated.

GM factory workers who get laid off typically get "sub pay," in which they receive unemployment benefits, and GM pays the difference, up to most of their salary, for 48 weeks.

After unemployment pay runs out, the laid-off workers would go into the jobs bank, where the company pays laid-off workers most of their pay and benefits while trying to find them jobs elsewhere.

The United Auto Workers union, however, has said that it would work to eliminate job banks at all three Detroit automakers as a condition of the companies' receiving billions in bridge loans from the federal government.

GM was awarded $13.4 billion in loans and already has added $9.4 billion of those funds to its coffers. it expects the rest after Feb. 17, when it must submit a viability plan to the government that includes cuts in operation and labor costs.

Lee wouldn't say if the newly displaced employees at the Lordstown and Delta Township plants would be eligible for the jobs bank.

Shares of GM fell 7 cents, or 2 percent, to $3.42 in midday trading.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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