GM to slash 14K jobs in North America, could close 5 plants

"The auto workers there are second to none", Governor-elect DeWine said.

Senator Sherrod Brown describes the decision to close the plant's doors as, "Corporate greed at it's finest". Dias said to cheers from union members.

"For decades, workers have devoted their lives, working day and night, to produce some of the finest cars in the country for General Motors".

"We are sick and exhausted of being pushed around. We aren't pointing fingers anywhere, federal or provincially or municipally", Ford said.

Barra also told reporters that many of those who will be laid off work on manufacturing cars with internal combustion engines, and that the company will continue to hire people to work on electric and autonomous vehicles. "This industry is changing very rapidly". "We think it is appropriate to do it at this time while the company is strong and the economy is strong".

The company also said the plan would make the company more efficient, saving it $6 billion a year by the end of 2020.

Shares in General Motors traded at their highest level in several months following the announcement, at one point reaching US$38.75 in NY.

Workers in the Unifor trade union walked out of the Oshawa plant "in protest", ahead of a meeting with GM about the announcement, a union spokeswoman said.

The plant makes the Chevrolet Impala, a once-popular vehicle that has seen its sales crater in recent years as consumer tastes shifted away from small and midsize sedans toward bigger vehicles like pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles.

GM plans to lay off about 6,000 factory workers.

At the factories, around 3,300 blue-collar workers could lose jobs in Canada and another 2,600 in the US, but some USA workers could transfer to truck or SUV factories that are increasing production.

The full closure of the Oshawa plant will leave 2,500 unionized workers and 300 salaried employees out of work, with indirect effects rippling across the southern Ontario auto industry and beyond. "It's a kick in the nuts".

"While the union does not have complete details of the overall announcement we have been informed that, as of now, there is no product allocated to the Oshawa Assembly Plant past December 2019", the union said. In the 1980s the three plants produced as many as 730,000 cars and trucks a year, and employed about 23,000 people. Also affected are propulsion plants in Warren, Michigan, as well as in White Marsh, Maryland.

The company is also closing a Canadian plant at the cost of 2,500 jobs. GM said its slimmed down production plan would allow it to share technology across all of its vehicles, reducing the amount of time and labor it takes to build cars.

Bill Macklem has worked at the plant for 31 years and says he learned about the end of operations after his mother-in-law called him and told him to turn on the news.

The likely shutdowns have already opened up GM to political pushback, with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeting that he has expressed "deep disappointment" with Barra directly. Another two will close outside North America.

The restructuring announcement also comes after Canada and the US reached the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, after months of strained negotiations. The facilities made some trucks, but those trucks are also made at in Mexico. That represented more than one third of the company's 50,000 salaried workers across North America. The company had around $145 billion in sales last year and costs of production of $118.7 billion, down significantly from $130.5 billion four years prior.

Barra said the automaker is running at about 70 percent capacity utilisation in North America, and the company will provide an update on how the latest moves will improve utilisation in January. Paterson said Monday that the company is still aiming to employ 1,000 engineers, up from 750 now. GM wouldn't disclose how many employees have accepted the buyout. The group called GM's decision "callous" and said the auto maker is putting profits above using American labor.

  • Joey Payne