Relocation possible, says UAW president

LORDSTOWN — A day after General Motors announced plans to indefinitely lay off about 2,000 factory workers, including more than 1,200 at the local assembly plant, the head of the United Auto Workers union told reporters there’s a possibility those employees could be placed at other GM factories.

UAW President Dennis Williams said Thursday that the union is talking with GM and there may be enough jobs for all the workers at other plants.

However, Williams added, he’s not yet sure whether that option will pan out.

On Wednesday, the Detroit automaker said it will eliminate the third shift at two car factories — the General Motors Assembly Plant in Lordstown and Lansing Grand River Assembly Plant in Michigan — in January because consumer demand has shifted from smaller cars to crossovers, trucks and SUVs.

At Lordstown, 1,202 hourly workers will lose their jobs, effective Jan. 23, while 43 salaried employees will have the option to transfer to other facilities. More than 4,500 people work at the local plant that has made the Chevrolet Cruze sedan exclusively since 2010.

Effective Jan. 16, 810 hourly and 29 salaried workers will lose their jobs at the Michigan plant, which employs 2,700 and makes the Cadillac ATS and CTS and Chevrolet Camaro.

However, there may be more jobs available at truck and SUV factories where sales are growing.

GM confirmed it’s talking to the union about jobs for laid-off workers but says nothing is finalized.

One spot may be an engine plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., where GM says it will add 800 jobs.

Glenn Johnson, president of UAW Local 1112, which represents some of the workers impacted by the layoffs at Lordstown, said Thursday that he was aware of Williams’ comment, but had not spoken to him directly.

“There’s a process to follow. We will keep our membership informed and if there are opportunities for them, we will make them aware of those opportunities,” Johnson said.

Johnson and UAW Local 1714 President Robert Morales explained to news reporters on Wednesday that the cuts will be “complex-wide and based on seniority.”

It remained unclear Wednesday which workers will be laid off. Union bargaining units are to meet with management and, “department by department, job by job,” determine which positions will be affected, Johnson said.

Morales said in the interim it will be business as usual as employees continue working three shifts a day, five days a week until Jan 23.

GM’s plans include investing more than $900 million in three facilities — Toledo Transmission Operations in Ohio, Lansing Grand River in Michigan and Bedford Casting Operations in Indiana —  “to prepare the facilities for future product programs.”

Lordstown started making the Cruze in 2010, two years after the top-selling small car was launched. GM invested $250 million to retool Lordstown to manufacture the next-generation Cruze that went into production at the local plant in February.

GM reported that its top sellers in October were the Chevy Silverado 1500 and Chevy Equinox, with 49,768 and 19,664 deliveries, respectively, compared to 17,126 Cruzes.

As of Oct. 31, the Cruze had sold 155,138 units year-to-date, compared to 475,324 Silverados and 193,400 units of the Equinox.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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