General Motors: Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly, Warren Transmission to be idled

Automaker shuttering list of plants as part of 'transformation'

DETROIT - General Motors announced Monday morning that it is shuttering several plants including the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant and the Warren Transmission Operations. 

Overall, the company will lay off 14,700 factory and white-collar workers in North America and put five plants up for possible closure as it restructures to cut costs and focus more on autonomous and electric vehicles.

RELATED: GM to close Ontario plant, costing 2,500 jobs

The following assembly plants will be idled in 2019: 

  • Oshawa Assembly in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.
  • Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly in Detroit.
  • Lordstown Assembly in Warren, Ohio.

The following propulsion plants will be idled in 2019: 

  • Baltimore Operations in White Marsh, Maryland.
  • Warren Transmission Operations in Warren, Michigan.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said Monday that the news of the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant's future is "troubling"

"This morning I spoke to Mary Barra and she advised me for the first time of the situation at the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant. The news is troubling," reads a statement from Duggan. "I have spoken to UAW President Gary Jones and the city's economic development team. They are working together to come up with a solution that works for GM and the employees. We all know there is strong demand for manufacturing space in Detroit and we are willing to work with GM to fill all the available manufacturing space at Poletown with either GM-related entities or other companies."

General Motors also announced Monday that in addition to the previously announced closure of the assembly plant in Gunsan, Korea, the automaker will cease the operations of two additional plants outside North America by the end of 2019.

“The actions we are taking today continue our transformation to be highly agile, resilient and profitable, while giving us the flexibility to invest in the future,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “We recognize the need to stay in front of changing market conditions and customer preferences to position our company for long-term success.”

The staff reduction includes 8,100 white-collar workers, some of whom will take buyouts and others who will be laid off. Most of the affected factories build cars that won't be sold in the U.S. after next year. They could close or they could get different vehicles to build. They will be part of contract talks with the United Auto Workers union next year.

GM's Monday morning news released was titled "General Motors Accelerates Transformation."

Here's more from the news release: 

Contributing to the cash savings of approximately $6 billion are cost reductions of $4.5 billion and a lower capital expenditure annual run rate of almost $1.5 billion. The actions include:

  • Transforming product development – GM is evolving its global product development workforce and processes to drive world-class levels of engineering in advanced technologies, and to improve quality and speed to market. Resources allocated to electric and autonomous vehicle programs will double in the next two years. Additional actions include:
    • Increasing high-quality component sharing across the portfolio, especially those not visible and perceptible to customers.
    • Expanding the use of virtual tools to lower development time and costs.
    • Integrating its vehicle and propulsion engineering teams.
    • Compressing its global product development campuses.
       
  • Optimizing product portfolio – GM has recently invested in newer, highly efficient vehicle architectures, especially in trucks, crossovers and SUVs. GM now intends to prioritize future vehicle investments in its next-generation battery-electric architectures. As the current vehicle portfolio is optimized, it is expected that more than 75 percent of GM’s global sales volume will come from five vehicle architectures by early next decade.
     
  • Increasing capacity utilization – In the past four years, GM has refocused capital and resources to support the growth of its crossovers, SUVs and trucks, adding shifts and investing $6.6 billion in U.S. plants that have created or maintained 17,600 jobs. With changing customer preferences in the U.S. and in response to market-related volume declines in cars, future products will be allocated to fewer plants next year.

These manufacturing actions are expected to significantly increase capacity utilization. To further enhance business performance, GM will continue working to improve other manufacturing costs, productivity and the competitiveness of wages and benefits.

  • Staffing transformation – The company is transforming its global workforce to ensure it has the right skill sets for today and the future, while driving efficiencies through the utilization of best-in-class tools. Actions are being taken to reduce salaried and salaried contract staff by 15 percent, which includes 25 percent fewer executives to streamline decision making.

Barra added, “These actions will increase the long-term profit and cash generation potential of the company and improve resilience through the cycle.”

GM expects to fund the restructuring costs through a new credit facility that will further improve the company’s strong liquidity position and enhance its financial flexibility.

GM expects to record pre-tax charges of $3.0 billion to $3.8 billion related to these actions, including up to $1.8 billion of non-cash accelerated asset write-downs and pension charges, and up to $2.0 billion of employee-related and other cash-based expenses. The majority of these charges will be considered special for EBIT-adjusted, EPS diluted-adjusted and adjusted automotive free cash flow purposes. The majority of these charges will be incurred in the fourth quarter of 2018 and first quarter of 2019, with some additional costs incurred through the remainder of 2019. 

UAW releases statement

The United Automobile Workers union released the following statement after GM's announcement: 

General Motors decision today to stop production at the Lordstown, Ohio, and Hamtramck, Michigan, assembly plants will idle thousands of workers, and will not go unchallenged by the UAW.

This decision will also affect employment at other GM locations including Baltimore, Maryland, and Michigan’s Brownstown and Warren Transmission plants.  The UAW and our members will confront this decision by GM through every legal, contractual and collective bargaining avenue open to our membership.

“This callous decision by GM to reduce or cease operations in American plants, while opening or increasing production in Mexico and China plants for sales to American consumers, is, in its implementation, profoundly damaging to our American workforce,” said Terry Dittes, UAW Vice President, Director GM Department. “GM’s production decisions, in light of employee concessions during the economic downturn and a taxpayer bailout from bankruptcy, puts profits before the working families of this country whose personal sacrifices stood with GM during those dark days. These decisions are a slap in the face to the memory and recall of that historical American made bailout.”

GM assembles cars, trucks and crossover vehicles outside of the United States for sales to American consumers. GM currently assembles versions of the full-size Chevy and GMC pickups in Mexico. In addition, the Buick Cascada is assembled in Poland and the Buick Envision is assembled in China only to be imported to the U.S. for American sales.

Recently, GM announced the new Chevy Blazer will also be assembled in Mexico and imported to the United States for American sales.

“We must step away from the anti-worker thinking of seeking simply the lowest labor cost on the planet,” said UAW President Gary Jones. “The practice of circumventing American labor in favor of moving production to nations that tolerate wages less than half of what our American brothers and sisters make, must stop. More importantly, we must understand that these companies, including GM, are no longer in trouble. They are recording annual profits in the tens of billions.”

To that end, the UAW and its membership will do its part to convince GM and all American employers that the American consumer market should support American-made products by building where we buy products. Simply said, American consumers need to be patriotic consumers by joining the UAW in this effort in saying ‘No’ to American companies that choose foreign workers over American workers and imported products over U.S.-made products.

As Dittes stresses, “This has, and always will be, a part of the fabric of the UAW.”

Be informed when making an American company automobile purchase: Examination of the driver-side window near the dashboard displays the Vehicle Identification Number plate (VIN) that identifies where the vehicle was assembled. VIN numbers beginning with “1”, “4” or “5” were assembled in the U.S., “2” were assembled in Canada, “3” were assembled in Mexico. If it begins with the letters J-R, it was assembled in Asia.

“America is only as great as the patriotism practiced within it,” says Jones. "The UAW does not believe that eliminating American jobs, hurting the American economy and devastating families and communities for quick profits, are the principles this country was built on.”

Stabenow releases statement

Sen. Debbie Stabenow released the following statement Monday:

"I am deeply disappointed by the GM plant closures announcement today and the devastating impact it will have on our workers, their families and our communities. Michigan has the best autoworkers in the world and I know there's no job that they can't handle. As GM considers future investments and products, it is critical that those investments be made in Michigan - not overseas! And most importantly it is critical to find opportunities for the workers who've lost their jobs because of today's announcement. I will continue to stand with Michigan's autoworkers and our communities no matter what."

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