LORDSTOWN - The General Motors Lordstown Complex will be idled a week earlier than the planned holiday shutdown this month, an effort to reduce a rising supply of Chevy Cruze inventory during impending cyclical slower sales periods.
The complex will cease production beginning Dec. 17 for a week. The scheduled holiday shutdown will continue for two more weeks after that, management and union officials said.
The announcement Monday came hours after GM released monthly sales figures showing increased sales of the Cruze. November figures showed Cruze sales rose 27 percent over sales this time last year.
Plant spokesman Tom Mock said the down time was set in order "to realign the build with the current market demand."
James R. Cain, GM's manager of financial news in Detroit said the company had about 96 days worth of Cruzes in inventory at the end of November. Cain called that number a ''little elevated," noting it was calculated using the previous months' sales.
''We're expecting robust December sales, so we are fine tuning production in what is already a relatively low production month, due to the holidays,'' Cain said.
The plant produced 267,124 Cruze models so far in 2012, including 22,329 in November alone, GM reports show.
''We've run strong all year. It's just to adjust inventory with production,'' United Autoworkers Local 1714 president Dave Green said.
Workers will be able to draw unemployment compensation for the week, both Green and his counterpart in the Assembly Plant, UAW Local 1112 president Glenn Johnson, said.
Local 1714 has about 1,500 members and Local 1112 has about 3,100 members.
In a similar effort, the plant also was idled for an extra week last December.
During Monday's corporate telephone conference regarding November sales, GM vice president of U.S. sales operations Kurt McNeil noted the company is in jeopardy of missing its year-end corporate inventory goal.
"As we have said before, we will continue to use all levers to influence inventory on a go-forward basis. That includes first and foremost adjusting production, as well as marketing activity," McNeil said.
In an unrelated matter, the Lordstown Assembly Plant has requested the addition of 110 permanent jobs.
The hirees could come by way of transfers from other General Motors plants nationwide, or could be added from the pool of about 100 temporary workers who have been working inside the plant for more than a year.
''The company puts in a requisition for manpower, and there's a variety of steps how people come to us,'' Johnson said.
A notice posted on the UAW Local 1112 website indicated the number of members who have accepted transfer to the Lordstown facility should be determined by Jan. 1.
''Based on this discussion, the parties have mutually agreed to extend the remaining temporary members until May 3, 2013,'' the notice says. ''If all works out well, we are hoping to convert a lot of our current temporary members into permanent positions. This year alone we have made about 175 temporary members permanent. Our overall goal is to make all of our temporary members permanent.''
No new permanent positions are planned for the neighboring fabricating plant at this time, Green said.