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Former GMers face transfer deadlines

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JAMES P. LEUTE
May 11, 2010
— The clock is ticking for more than 100 laid-off employees at the General Motors plant in Janesville who recently were offered jobs at the automaker’s facility in Lordstown, Ohio.

GM spokeswoman Kim Carpenter said Monday that most of the workers must decide today whether to accept or decline GM’s offer of a transfer to Ohio. A handful face a deadline of later this week, she said.


Workers who don’t accept the offer and report to Lordstown later this month would lose their unemployment and health benefits but would retain their right to work in Janesville if the local plant ever reopens.


“Basically, their option is to accept the forced move or decline it and basically sever all ties with GM,” said John Dohner Sr., president of United Auto Workers Local 95 in Janesville.


The letters offering Lordstown employment arrived in Janesville late last week, meaning laid-off employees have little time to make a decision.


Since GM ended sport-utility vehicle production in Janesville in December 2008, several hundred workers have accepted early retirements or buyouts. Several hundred others have taken voluntary transfers to plants in Indiana, Kansas and Texas.


Carpenter couldn’t say for sure Monday how many Janesville employees still are laid off. But she did say that the 100-plus offers made last week wouldn’t exhaust the local layoff list.


The letters went to laid-off workers based on their seniority, those who started at the Janesville plant Sept. 17, 1986, or later. But Dohner has heard from workers who should have received the notices but did not.


Dohner and another Local 95 official met Monday with UAW District IV representatives to make sure the proper employees got the Lordstown offers.


“As we understand it, the list includes about 120 people,” Dohner said. “But the list is still being purified.”


GM is adding a third shift of production at Lordstown in preparation for this fall’s launch of the Chevy Cruze.


Many of the 1,200 new workers are people previously laid off from the Lordstown facility. But the presidents of the two UAW locals in the plant said that nearly 450 workers would come from shuttered GM plants such as the one in Janesville.



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