GM will lay off 1,600 workers at 3 factories

ByABC News
October 16, 2008, 10:28 PM

DETROIT -- About 700 workers at GM's pickup plant in Pontiac will be furloughed starting Feb. 1, while another 500 at the Detroit-Hamtramck sedan factory will be laid off starting Jan. 12, spokesman Chris Lee said Thursday. In addition, 400 workers at a two-seat sports car assembly plant in Wilmington, Del., also will be out of work starting Dec. 8.

Workers were notified of the company's actions Sept. 29, Lee said.

The Detroit-Hamtramck plant, which makes the Buick Lucerne and Cadillac DTS full-size sedans, already is down to a single daily shift. GM will reduce its assembly line speed from 56 to 38 cars per hour to achieve the layoffs, Lee said.

The Pontiac plant, which makes the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, also is operating on one shift and will see its line speed go from 55 trucks to 24 trucks per hour.

In Wilmington, the plant that makes the Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Sky and Opel GT roadsters will go from two shifts per day to one, Lee said.

"We don't need excess inventory out there," Lee said. "We adjust up and down to the market. Pickups, as you know, have been impacted, and in this case our large luxuries have been impacted and the small two-seater niche products as well."

Lee said the company plans no further plant announcements at this time.

George McGregor, president of United Auto Workers Local 22 at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant, said the union has known about the layoffs for a while, but didn't know the exact number.

"We don't know when the return date will be. We are just holding on," said the 62-year-old, who has been a GM employee for 41 years. "We had a lot of people who retired early. With what's left now, we are just holding on, taking it day to day, year to year."

McGregor's plant, which employs 1,500 hourly workers, is slated to build the Chevrolet Volt, GM's electric car with a small gas engine to extend its range. The Volt is due in showrooms in late 2010, but McGregor said the union is not sure when production will start.