GM To Close Oklahoma City Plant

11-21-05 - General Motors Corp. will eliminate 30,000 manufacturing jobs and close nine North American assembly, stamping and powertrain plants by 2008 as part of an effort to get production in line with demand and return the company to profitability and long-term growth.

The announcement Monday by Rick Wagoner, chairman and CEO of the world's largest automaker, represents 5,000 more job cuts than the 25,000 that the automaker had previously indicated it planned to cut.

GM said the assembly plants that will close are in Oklahoma City, Lansing, Mich., Spring Hill, Tenn., Doraville, Ga., and Ontario, Canada. A shift also will be removed at a plant in Moraine, Ohio.

An engine facility in Flint, Mich., will close, along with a separate powertrain facility in Ontario and metal centers in Lansing and Pittsburgh.

Wagoner said GM also will close three service and parts operations facilities. They are in Ypsilanti, Mich., and Portland, Ore. One other site will to be announced later.

"The decisions we are announcing today were very difficult to reach because of their impact on our employees and the communities where we live and work," Wagoner told employees. "But these actions are necessary for GM to get its costs in line with our major global competitors. In short, they are an essential part of our plan to return our North American operations to profitability as soon as possible."

GM said the plan is to achieve $7 billion in cost reductions on a running rate basis by the end of 2006 _ $1 billion above its previously indicated target.

The company said it would take a "significant" restructuring charge in conjunction with the changes and any related early retirement program. Details of those charges would be released later, GM said.

Any early retirement program would require an agreement with its unions, which GM said it hopes to reach soon.

GM shares rose 18 cents to $24.23 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Its shares traded below $21 last week at an 18-year low.

Wagoner said last month the automaker would announce plant closures by the end of this year to get its capacity in line with U.S. demand. GM plants currently run at 85 percent of their capacity, lower than North American plants run by its Asian rivals. The plant closings aren't expected to be final until GM's current contract with the United Auto Workers expires in 2007.

GM has been crippled by high labor, pension, health care and materials costs as well as by sagging demand for sport utility vehicles, its longtime cash cows, and by bloated plant capacity. Its market share has been eroded by competition from Asian automakers led by Toyota Motor Corp. GM lost nearly $4 billion in the first nine months of this year.

The automaker could be facing a strike at Delphi Corp., its biggest parts supplier, which filed for bankruptcy protection last month. GM spun off Delphi in 1999 and could be liable for billions in pension costs for Delphi retirees.

GM also is under investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for accounting errors.

Last week, after the automaker's shares fell to their lowest level in 18 years, Wagoner sent an e-mail to employees saying the company has a turnaround strategy in place and has no plans to file for bankruptcy.

GM is not the only U.S. automaker faced with the need to cut costs.

Last week, Ford Motor Co. told employees it plans to eliminate about 4,000 white-collar jobs in North America early next year as part of a restructuring plan. Ford said the cuts will be made in part through attrition and elimination of some agency and contract positions.

The plans were outlined Friday in an e-mail to employees from Mark Fields, president for the Americas.

The cuts will be in addition to 2,750 North American salaried jobs that Ford earlier said it wanted to cut by the end of 2005. Ford started the year with about 35,000 salaried workers in North America.

Dearborn-based Ford reported a third-quarter loss of $284 million, including a loss of $1.2 billion before taxes in North America.

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General Motors Corp.: http://www.gm.com


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