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GM plant towns struggle with losses

A for lease sign is posted at an industrial office site located across from a General Motors sport utility plant, rear, Tuesday, June 3, 2008, in Moraine, Ohio. Al Behrman
By JAMES HANNAH (Associated Press Writer)
From Associated Press
June 03, 2008 6:18 PM EST
MORAINE, Ohio - The General Motors Corp. plant in this Dayton suburb is a forest of smokestacks that form the nerve center of this industrial community built along the banks of the Great Miami River.

Each day, about 2,400 workers file inside to assemble the GMC Envoy, Chevrolet Trailblazer, Saab 9-7X and Isuzu Ascender sport utility vehicles.

But some time before the summer of 2010, the Moraine plant will be no more: It is one of four that GM announced Tuesday it will close. And there are fears here that the people - and the city's fortunes - will disappear with it.


The loss of the SUV plant will leave behind a bleak landscape for the surrounding community, an area scarred by a dwindling population, high poverty rates and one of the nation's hardest-hit pockets of the housing slump.

"It's going to be a ghost town," said Debbie Miller, 52, who owns The Upper Deck, a restaurant and bar next to the plant. "There are no jobs here. I don't know what they're going to do."

The plant closings are casualties of surging fuel prices that are hastening a dramatic shift to smaller vehicles. About 8,350 jobs at the four plants - here, in Janesville, Wis., and in Canada and Mexico - will be lost.

"There are going to be a lot of houses for sale," said Miller, born and raised in the area. "We'll see people leave this area. This is a dying town."

Once, the Dayton area was dotted with so many auto factories that it came to be likened to a small-scale Detroit.

Delphi Corp., an auto supplier trying to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, has five plants in the area, all already hit by layoffs or buyouts. GM also operates a separate engine plant here that employs about 1,000 people.

But the plant closure nearly marks the end of GM's dominance in a town that once housed five of the auto maker's presidents in the late 1960s, said John Heitmann, a history professor at University of Dayton.

"Next to Detroit and Flint, this was number three," Heitmann said of the Dayton area. "That's a lot of power. This was a great GM town."

Heitmann said he had thought the area's skilled labor pool and favorable geography would entice the automaker to keep the plant open, but its future was ultimately doomed by what he called an outmoded product - the fuel-guzzling SUV.

"The future of Dayton is certainly not in the auto industry anymore," Heitmann said of the number of jobs in the region's auto production and auto parts industries. "We're kind of an historical relic."

The commercial strip in this town of 6,700 people is dominated by fast-food restaurants, transmission shops and office buildings with "for lease" signs tacked in front.

Community services that are already struggling, like groceries, will probably face more strain now, said Rhine McLin, the mayor of next-door Dayton, where the poverty rate of nearly 30 percent is more than twice the state average.

"There's no way you can sugarcoat that," McLin said. "We're already in a recession, and it's difficult, and this just adds to it."

The outlook is brighter in Janesville, a city of about 63,000 near Milwaukee that has diversified and no longer counts GM as its biggest employer. But the plant closure will still sting.

"It's going to have a devastating effect, but not as bad as if GM had pulled the plug 20 or 30 years ago," said Gary Green, professor of rural sociology and director of the Center for Community and Economic Development at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The announcement that GM's plant in Toluca, Mexico, will stop making medium-duty trucks was a blow to the industrial hub tucked into the mountains outside of Mexico City. About 250 people will lose their jobs at the factory, one of the main employers in a city where many people work in manufacturing and farming.

"The news hit us like a bucket of cold water," said Edgar Arroyo, a leader of the union at the Toluca General Motors plant, who said about 4,500 people work at the factory west of Mexico City. "It's going to affect us all."

And at the GM plant for pickup trucks and SUVs in Oshawa, Ontario, Randall Carswell, a 24-year veteran of the factory, said he had seen a lot of changes in his time, but none quite like this.

"I have never seen such a drastic slam, so fast, and everybody fall so hard, so quick," he said, worrying about how he will support his five children now or pay his bills.

Here in Moraine, GM workers bring in about half of the business at Miller's restaurant, an orange brick building with a green awning stretching over the front.

On Tuesday, as waitresses mopped tables and filled red plastic glasses with ice, Miller closed her eyes and rolled her head back.

"If the local people don't support us and our food by keeping us here, then I don't know what we'll do," she said.

Gaylen Turner, president of Moraine's local International Union of Electronic Workers-Communications Workers, which represents the plant's workers, said he's not giving up on the plant.

"It's not optimistic, but I plan on staying around and continuing that fight as best I can," said Turner, who is 53 and has worked at the plant for 28 years.

At least one political scientist, William Binning of Youngstown State University, suggested the news could even be a blow to Republican Sen. John McCain's hopes of winning the White House by underscoring the weak economy.


"I'm not saying McCain can't win Ohio but it's a bad environment because of the economic malaise," he said.

As for what will become of the remaining workers, Heitmann predicted they will have few options, all distasteful: Leave town, or accept a lower standard of living. Unless another automaker sweeps in and decides to build a new plant, the jobs simply won't exist.

"Many of these workers have extended families here," Heitmann said. "You just can't pack up all of your things in a trailer and drive down to Texas and start over."

---

Associated Press writers Meghan Barr, Doug Whiteman and John McCarthy in Columbus, Ohio, Mark Stevenson in Mexico City, and Emily Fredrix in Janesville, Wis., contributed to this report.

(This version CORRECTS about 2,400 work at Moraine plant, about 8,350 total jobs lost in Tuesday's cuts.)
 

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it's just the truck plants that are closing...shouldn't have any effect on the Camaro. Hopefully all those plants wont be completely shut and all those workers wont lose their jobs, but shifted to build other vehicles.

And all that isn't exactly a huge surprise...they announced a while back that the Trailblazer/Envoys were going to be done by 2010.
 

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It is sad, but could kinda see it coming with the new CAFE rules and the price of gas.

On the plus side, GM is adding third shifts to the Lordstown and Orion plants.
Additionally, many of the workers will be offered jobs at other facilities, and since the Arlington, TX plant will be the only plant left building full-size SUVs I think its future is safe.

Though they are eventually shutting down the truck assembly line at Oshawa, this will not affect the Camaro.
 

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Camaro production plans

it's sad to lose the big vehicle production and jobs at the plants. I think some of them (like Oshawa) are based on flexi manufacturing, and will eventually be retooled to produce smaller, more fuel efficient models.

I really don't think this should impact Camaro production plans. The growing buzz and excitiment about the arrival of our car ( :blahblah: ;) ) , and growing fan base indicates a healthy market demand for the vehicle. The only thing I could imagine affecting Camaro production would be the initial shortfall of ready production units for the many and waiting customers. :patriot: :patriot: :patriot:

Joe
 

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"The cuts will affect 10,000 hourly and salaried workers. Many will be able to take openings created when 19,000 more U.S. hourly workers leave later this year through early retirement and buyout offers."

Not too much of an effect other then no more SUV's. Which we all saw coming anyways.
 

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I will have to check out the Chevy Volt, I think in 2009 the gas will be at $5.00 per gal. I will have to go hybrid. :eek:
The American auto companies have to get it right this time if they want to stay in business. They have to stop producing big SUV's and big V8 cars and go towards hybrids and new fuel alternatives. This is why the foreign auto companies will make it. The big three saw this coming in the 90's but continued to produce large SUV's and V8 cars while the Asian auto companies were producing hybrids and they are now again way ahead of the US auto companies. :patriot: This is reality now and we all need to convert.
 

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It'll be just like the mining and steel areas. It'll turn to white trash. Such is the economy. Those who have drive and ambition will move on. Those who request handouts will whine and complain.

Although a bit harsh, at the end of the day, it's all about money. I wish the families luck.
 

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Doesn't bother me any. I won't ever own a truck, and I won't own something like an SUV. Coupe's all the way. At this rate, though, I'm not sure what I'm going to do with gas prices the way they are. I highly doubt the Camaro LS3 is going to offer AFM, and if it does, so many people will complain that they'll pull it from the next year model. All this does is lead me to cross shop the 2009 Challenger R/T, and I really don't want a Dodge. But if my Muscle is gonna cost 120$ per tank, I'll have to skip on the Camaro, and get the easier-on-the-wallet choice, which would be the Challenger.
 

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Its kinda sad how bad GM is doing right now Im 3rd generation GM Factory rat And just recently Was offered a Buy out...at 36? **** Its crazy i Believe IN GM but things are just to Bad right Now so im takin The buyout Or I did take IT so now Im buyiing a few More rental properties And taking the Summer off Then Gonna Get a Die Maker Job with One of the Local Die Shops.....Im sad But You cant might the ****y Economy
 

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Doesn't bother me any. I won't ever own a truck, and I won't own something like an SUV. Coupe's all the way. At this rate, though, I'm not sure what I'm going to do with gas prices the way they are. I highly doubt the Camaro LS3 is going to offer AFM, and if it does, so many people will complain that they'll pull it from the next year model. All this does is lead me to cross shop the 2009 Challenger R/T, and I really don't want a Dodge. But if my Muscle is gonna cost 120$ per tank, I'll have to skip on the Camaro, and get the easier-on-the-wallet choice, which would be the Challenger.
Why is that 2 posts in a row where I have read that you want a Challenger, on a Camaro site? I don't get this.

If you seriously think that a comparable heavier Dodge (known for inefficient vehicles) is going to be cheaper on your wallet than a Camaro, I say "go for it!" If you want to talk about how great Challengers are, though, then why do it here?
 

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Why is that 2 posts in a row where I have read that you want a Challenger, on a Camaro site? I don't get this.

If you seriously think that a comparable heavier Dodge (known for inefficient vehicles) is going to be cheaper on your wallet than a Camaro, I say "go for it!" If you want to talk about how great Challengers are, though, then why do it here?
I think it's only because of the 2.99/gal special.
 

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I think it's only because of the 2.99/gal special.
I think that special is only for 87 octane...so I doubt it will apply for the Challengers unless you get a V6...so go ahead, have a blast in your 250hp, 4000lbs Challenger.
 

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And when you opt. for the 2.99 gal special, you get no other price breaks or incentives. You either get the rebate or the gas break and the gas break is for 12k miles a year for 3 years. Go ahead and get the 2.99 gal then at 3 years when gas is at 5 or a gallon and you suddenly go from 2.99 to 5 or more see how bad you start crying then. At least everyone else will have already adjusted.
And with Dodge, that doesnt hold resale well at all, you will way upside down and cant trade it in cause no one will roll that much ontop of the new loan. Go and look at what the newer used Durangos are selling for now. They cost 30k new and 1 to 2 years old they are around 15k :eek: retail not trade.
 

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what do you want people to say?

Truck plants closing does not directly affect production of another model.
As stated above, if others issues continue to escalate, other models may be impacted.

Will I freak out of the Camaro is cancelled, not hardly. While the car was missed my some, the majority of car buyers did not miss it as the sales numbers declining for many years showed us.

I do hope the Camaro rolls off of production lines for many years to come :D
 

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i am not worried at all about Camaro production in conjunction with the truck plants closing. yes it sucks that it is coming to this. especially for the families of the employees. its VERY hard to get a job nowdays. and when 10,000 people in the same area all need a job at the same time.... thats what is happenning here on a smaller scale. hundreds not thousands...

the unveiling of the concept, and this forum have me 100% convinced that we will get our Camaro back as planned. they should have never discontinued it to begin with... i dont care what the sales numbers were, if they would have came out with the '5th gen' in 03 it would have been just as effective as i feel it is going to be next year.

for all we know, this launch is going to have a huge target market, and will make GM enough money to keep some trucks coming.

its the oil problem that they need to work on... its the cause of all this junk
 
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