New deal, new layoffs for GM

New deal, new layoffs for GM http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071025/AUTO01/710250335/1148
A labor contract that provided unprecedented promises to keep work
flowing at General Motors Corp. factories nationwide wasn't enough to protect hundreds of Michigan autoworkers from the harsh reality of the U.S. auto market.
Within weeks of reaching a new labor pact with the United Auto Workers, GM announced layoffs at three factories, which soon will add more than 2,000 autoworkers to the ranks of Michigan's unemployed.
GM said the timing of the layoffs -- in Flint, Pontiac and Hamtramck -- was driven solely by demand for vehicles produced at the plants and wasn't at all related to the labor contract ratified Sept. 10.
Still, the announcements come as UAW workers at Chrysler LLC are in the final days of voting on their own contract, with job security emerging as the central issue in a close ratification vote.
Chrysler workers are watching warily as events unfold across town.
"If it could happen to them, you know it could happen to us," said Dean DeMarco, a worker at Chrysler's Trenton Engine manufacturing facility who said the GM job cuts caused him to think twice about voting last week in favor of tentative agreement
GM's decision to announce layoffs so shortly after striking a landmark, money-saving labor agreement with the UAW is a stark reminder that no job is guaranteed anymore in the volatile U.S. auto industry.
The layoffs include 1,000 workers at the GM assembly plant in Delta Township near Lansing, 767 workers at a Hamtramck plant that builds high-end sedans and up to 900 workers at a truck plant in Pontiac. At least 180 of those getting laid off are former temporary workers in Hamtramck who had just received full-time status and wages under the contract.
"A lot of us are skeptical about how all this went down," said Mike Crawford, who works at the Hamtramck plant. "A lot of temps and people who voted for this contract did it on the basis that their kids and families would have jobs. Then, as soon as we ratify the contract, they put them on the streets." GM sales down 6.6 percent
The cuts were a necessary part of the automaker's strategy to keep vehicle production in line with demand, GM spokesman Tom Wickham said.
In rolling out details of the deal to Wall Street last week, GM Chief Financial Officer Fritz Henderson reassured investors that the agreement gives GM the flexibility it needs to adjust staffing levels to the shifting market. In the past, GM has overproduced cars and trucks to keep plants running, a strategy that ultimately contributed to the glut of vehicles being sold at deep discounts and into rental fleets. The recent cuts, GM says, will prevent that scenario.
Sales are down for a number of automakers in the United States this year; for GM, overall sales are down 6.6 percent through September.
The Hamtramck plant builds the Cadillac DTS and Buick Lucerne sedan, whose sales have fallen 14 percent and 15 percent, respectively, this year.
Pontiac builds mostly heavy-duty versions of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks. Reflecting sluggish U.S. truck sales hit hard by the national housing slump, GM's pickup sales are down 2 percent through September -- even with the well-received makeovers of the Sierra and Silverado.
In Lansing, Wickham said, the third shift that's being cut was put in place only to meet initial demand for the launch of GM's trio of popular new crossover SUVs. About 500 of the 1,000 workers being laid off there were temporary hires brought on to help with the rollout. The vehicles continue to sell well, though not enough to support three full shifts. Making poor economy worse
The cuts aren't good news for Michigan, which has lost nearly 120,000 manufacturing jobs since 2001. But the GM layoffs aren't so big that they'll make a significant impact in the states spiraling economy.
"Unfortunately, in the current Michigan economy, 2,000 jobs isn't that significant," said Scott Watkins, a consultant with Anderson Economic Group in East Lansing. "It's certainly making a poor economy even worse off. But it's not the straw that's making a decent economy bad."
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Well, it just doesn't get much stupider than that. If those morons in Detroit haven't figured out by now that the days of family jobs forever are long gone, then there's no hope for them. What does it take to make an idiot like this aware that job security is a thing of the past?
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-Mike-
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