Union wants to build new Camaro at idled GM plant in Oklahoma
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Union leaders at the idled General Motors Corp. plant would like to one day produce the next generation of the Chevrolet Camaro sports car.
GM stopped production of sport utility vehicles at the plant in February, putting 2,200 members of United Auto Workers Local 1999 out of work and forcing hundreds of layoffs at area suppliers.
The automaker unveiled a concept version of a 400-horsepower Camaro at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January. The 2002 model year was the last for the Camaro.
"We're still trying to get the Oklahoma City plant a product to build for the future," said Bob Alexander, president of UAW Local 1999. "With the quality of work that has come out of our plant, we're not giving up."
Last month, union officials, state Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, and former Democratic Gov. David Walters presented the local plant's strengths to GM executives in Detroit. The executives were noncommittal, so the group is lobbying to take the case directly to GM's board of directors.
But plant manager Tyree Minner said Thursday that he believes it's unlikely a new product ever will come to Oklahoma City. GM has offered buyout and early-retirement packages to hourly employees across the country, including those in Oklahoma City.
"I don't want them to hold out hope and pass up their chances for this package," Minner said.
The company is in preliminary discussions with one of its plants in Oshawa, Ontario, about the Camaro, although GM hasn't decided if it will build the car.
"It's a hot product," GM spokeswoman Nancy Sarpolis said. "A lot of people would like to see it built, and a lot of people would like to build it."
Before the Oklahoma City plant was idled, it produced extended versions of the Chevrolet TrailBlazers and GMC Envoys.