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Announcement won't stop new product effort

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JAMES P. LEUTE
October 13, 2008
— While today's announcement at General Motors might have come sooner than anticipated, it certainly was expected, and that's the motivation for a local coalition working to get a new product for the plant.

The GM task force, along with area lawmakers, met with GM officials in September in Detroit.


"Rather than attempting to maintain the current sport-utility-vehicle line, our proposal focused on the future: consideration of a new fuel-efficient vehicle platform for the Janesville plant," task force leaders Tim Cullen and Brad Dutcher said in a recent column submitted to The Janesville Gazette.


Cullen is a Janesville School Board member and former state senator and Senate majority leader. Dutcher is former president of United Auto Workers Local 95 and now a district representative for the international UAW.


The men, neither of whom was available for comment this morning, said that the official cessation announcement from GM will have little affect on the group's proposal or its activities.


"Our proposal was about moving forward, not about preserving the past," they said.


After the September meeting, GM officials said they would be back in touch with the local group.


"The efforts of this task for us right now are huge," said Andy Richardson, Local 95 president.


"What was announced today was expected. We weren't blindsided, although it did reopen some old wounds. For that task force, it's business as usual."


Bill Boggs, GM's manufacturing manager in North America, told GM employees today that the discussion between GM and the Wisconsin delegation is ongoing. But that dialogue will not change the automaker's decision to end full-size SUV production in Janesville.


Gov. Jim Doyle, who appointed Cullen and Dutcher to the taskforce, said GM is seriously considering the Janesville proposal.


"I have received assurances from General Motors that any (cessation) announcement is not a response to the incentive package we delivered to them last month and that they will continue to consider our package," Doyle said.



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