Five more U.S. General Motors plants slated for closure

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Details of General Motor's "Viability Plan" were released late Tuesday.  The company is asking for up to $30 billion from the Treasury Department to keep operating, and plans to cut a total of 47,000 jobs and close five more U.S. factories.  But the details most important to GM Shreveport employees are still unknown: whether their plant is on the new plant shutdown list, and how many more jobs are on the line. GM CEO Rick Wagoner did not say Tuesday which plants the company was considering for closure.  Until those details are released, no one here knows exactly how the Shreveport plant will be affected.    Morgan Johnson, president of the local UAW 2166, remains hopeful: "Not only tough economic times, not only for the auto workers, but for everyone..and of course we're very optimistic and hopeful that down the road the Shreveport-GM facility will be back in full production and we can get all the folks back to work making high-quality GM cars and trucks."

The plant produces the Hummer H3 and H3T, along with the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickup trucks. But the future of the Hummer brand is also on the line.  At Tuesday's press conference, Wagoner also confirmed the  company should know by the end of March whether or not it will sell its Hummer brand as part of the company's massive restructuring. As it is, there are only about 800 employees working the one remaining shift at the plant since previous cutbacks brought the payroll down from over 2,000 last fall.  On Monday, some of those employees were just returning from a six-week furlough at reduced pay.  They'll work six weeks, only to return to furlough at the end of March for another two weeks.  What's more, they've only had a few days to digest the company-wide rollout of a new "Special Attrition Program."  Designed to cut the workforce through retirement, early retirement and voluntary resignation, the details of the buyout were just released to employees last week.  It's not known how many at the Shreveport plant could be expected to qualify - or how many will take it.  With more than 40 years at GM, Hank Sanford says he probably won't, "It's not the right time.  Trying to retire with the economy like it is, ain't a good time."  Especially not now that GM's restructuring plan could change the whole ballgame again.   "You know, I just have to take it a day at a time, I can't make any decisions on nothing like that right now." Like so many others, Hank Sanford is waiting to see what the plan has in store for him, and whether Congress buys into the company's pitch, and believes they one-time automaking giant can still turn things around.