General Motors Lays Off 350
Feb. 20, 2004
Cuts Production at Linden, N.J., Plant
By Ken Tarbous, Home News Tribune, East Brunswick,
N.J. Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Feb. 19--LINDEN, N.J. - General Motors Corp. laid off 350 union workers yesterday as the automaker scaled back the assembly line at its Linden plant, according to the company.
Workers at the plant, off routes 1 and 9, were placed on layoff status when the factory closed for two weeks starting Jan. 30 to modify the production line to lower output, Dan Flores, a GM spokesman based in Michigan, said yesterday.
When production resumed Monday, some of those workers remained out. Fewer than 1,000 workers remain at the factory, approximately 850 hourly and 130 salaried, he said.
"We basically cut the production in half at the plant," Flores said "The impact on the employees would be addressed per terms of the GM-UAW national contract," Flores said. "That basically guarantees them the wage and benefit protection."
The United Auto Workers of America Local 595, which represents workers at the plant, did not return calls seeking comment for this story.
Based on their specific scenarios, employees either receive a portion of their wages plus state unemployment compensation or the normal weekly pay as guaranteed by the company's agreement with the UAW, Flores said. He did not know how many fall into each category. Workers were notified late last year or early this year of the impending cuts, he added.
Flores emphasized that the workers have not lost their jobs and can remain on layoff status or apply for other positions within the corporation.
"Impacted employees aren't out in the cold, out on the street," he said. "They're still GM hourly employees, they're just not on an active status."
GM has been running one shift in Linden for the past few years. Lower consumer demand for the pickups and SUVs built there led to the cutback, Flores said. The company will produce about 215 vehicles per day at the plant.
Last year, GM reached a contract agreement with the UAW that keeps the Linden factory open until at least mid-2007.
Flores said he could not speculate on future production at the plant, adding that it depends on the consumer.
"From a GM perspective, we're not interested in shrinking our business, we want to grow our business." he said. "The last thing we like to do is to cut production. There would be nothing better than to run this plant at full capacity."
GM builds midsize pickups and midsize sport utility vehicles in Linden, specifically the Chevrolet S-10 and GMC Sonoma pickup trucks and the Chevy Blazer SUV for U.S. markets and the GMC Jimmy for sale in Canada.
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