Janesville57.7°

GM still trucking—for now

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JAMES P. LEUTE
October 6, 2008
— Three days after announcing the definitive closure of an Ohio sport utility vehicle plant, General Motors said today its Janesville plant will build trucks through most of November.

In a mid-morning memo to Janesville employees, GM said it is reinstating production of full-size SUVs for the week of Nov. 3.


The plantís 1,150 hourly and 130 salaried employees also will be on the job for the weeks of Nov. 10 and 17.


In the weeks leading up to todayís scheduling announcement, speculation had been that the Janesville plant was not likely to build trucks in November and December. Earlier this year, GM said that slow sales of the big trucks would mean 10 weeks of non-production at the Janesville plant.


Between the weeks of Aug. 18 and Nov. 3, five of those down weeks had been scheduled. With five weeks yet to be scheduled, conventional wisdom indicated that SUV workers would not be on the job in November or December.


Local workers still will be off the weeks of Nov. 24 and Dec. 22 for traditional holiday breaks, and a plant spokeswoman said the December production schedule is still pending.


As previously scheduled, workers on the SUV line in Janesville are working for the entire month of October.


Todayís announcement at the Janesville plant comes on the heels of GMís decision to close its Moraine, Ohio, plant on Dec. 23. That plantís 1,100 workers, who build the GMC Envoy, Chevrolet Trailblazer and Saab 9-7X, learned of the decision Friday.


GM announced in June that it planned to close its plants in Moraine, Janesville and two other communities by 2010 at the latest. The four closures combined will result in the loss of about 8,350 jobs.


The automaker followed that up with the announcement that the closures could come sooner rather than later as it shifts to smaller vehicles. A slumping U.S. auto market and a shift from pickups and SUVs to smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles led to the shutdown plans.


Before it closes its plant in Janesville, GM must give the state a 60-day notice of its intentions.


In September, a Wisconsin delegation flew to Detroit to propose a plan for continued employment at the Janesville plant.


GM officials reportedly took the delegationís proposals seriously and are expected to schedule another meeting in the coming weeks.



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