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GM reschedules slowdown at Janesville assembly plant

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JAMES P. LEUTE
January 25, 2008
— In order to make sure all hands are on deck, General Motors has rescheduled an assembly line slowdown at its truck assembly plant in Janesville.

GM announced in December that the local plant, which makes full-size sport utility vehicles, will slow its production line from 52 jobs per hour to 44. Originally scheduled for the week of March 10, the slowdown now will take effect the week of April 7, workers learned Thursday.


A non-production week dedicated to training employees will precede the slowdown.


GM spokesman Tom Wickham said the automaker reconsidered the March timeframe when it learned that the Janesville School District would be on spring break the week of March 17.


“With the week of training before the re-rate, it just didn’t make any sense to start the re-rate then,” Wickham said. “We know many of our employees take vacation for quality time with their families on spring break, and for the re-rate to be as successful as possible, we need those employees in the plant.”


Assistant Plant Manager Steve Kegerreis said discussions between the United Auto Workers Local 95 and GM leadership continue on how employees will be affected by the assembly line slowdown.


GM’s decision to cut production in Janesville by 15 percent is a response to current and forecasted market demand for full-size SUVs. Production at Janesville’s sister plant in Arlington, Texas, will not be slowed, primarily because that plant is building hybrid models of the SUVs that are expected to be in higher demand.


GM officials have said the re-rate likely will result in an employment drop in Janesville. With fewer units coming off a slower line, the plant won’t need as many workers.


Workers in Janesville and other GM assembly plants are awaiting a buyout package that could impact how many workers are available to staff assembly lines.


Wickham said Thursday that he hasn’t heard any indication that the delay in the production slowdown in Janesville has anything to do with a rollout of a special attrition package.



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