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GM will decrease production of full-size SUV

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Gazette Staff
December 18, 2007
— General Motors officials said today they will decrease production of full-size sport utility vehicles at its Janesville assembly plant, a move that is expected to affect employment levels.

The line speed at the local plant, which builds Chevrolet Suburbans and Tahoes and GMC Yukon XLs and Yukons, will drop from 52 jobs per hour to 44 in March, said Mary Fanning, the plant’s spokeswoman.


Prior to the re-rate, the plant will have a non-production week to acclimate workers to the new line speed and any changes in jobs.


Fanning said workers will not necessarily be laid off for that week, although plant officials expect some staffing changes as a result of the re-rate.


“We do expect some impact, but we’re just not certain what that will be at this time,” Fanning said.


The Janesville plant employs about 2,500 hourly and 300 salaried workers.


Slowing the line rate is one way the automaker can address current and forecast market conditions, which include sagging sales and increasing dealer inventories.


With fewer jobs moving down the line each hour, fewer employees are generally required. It’s possible that, based on seniority, some first-shift employees could be bumped to second shift, which would then result in layoffs, sources have told The Janesville Gazette.


While a production line re-rate is on the table for the Janesville plant, GM took a different approach to its sales problems with its pickup plants in Fort Wayne, Ind., Pontiac, Mich., and Oshawa, Ont. Workers at those plants will be laid off for two weeks in January as the automaker works to improve market conditions for the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups.


Fanning said Janesville’s sister plant in Arlington, Texas, has not been targeted for a production re-rate. An SUV plant in Silao, Mexico, has, she said.


General Motors has said it plans to cut North American production by more than 10 percent, or 113,000 vehicles, in the first quarter of next year.


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