GM to slash up to 14,000 jobs in North America

General Motors is to lay off 14,000 workers in North America and put five factories up for potential closure as it stops making some of its unpopular cars.

U.S. Senator Rob Portman, a Republican from OH, said he's "deeply frustrated" with GM's decision to shut down a plant in Lordstown and is pressing Barra to come up with an alternative product for the factory.

The decision, announced Monday, will impact Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly in Detroit, Lordstown Assembly in Warren, Ohio, and Oshawa Assembly in Oshawa, Ontario. GM boasts that the Oshawa's plant was "capable of building vehicles from every brand in the portfolio" and the "only assembly plant in North America capable of building both cars and trucks in the same plant".

The reduction includes 8,100 white-collar workers, some of whom will take buyouts and others who will be laid off.

It is a hard day for the thousands of workers at hundreds of Ontario auto part suppliers that depend on the GM Oshawa Assembly Plant for much of their business, as well as for workers and small business owners throughout Oshawa and the wider Durham region.

GM says it is maintaining its profitable lineup of SUVs and trucks but will shift away from some of its smaller vehicles that haven't seen strong sales.

But Dino Chiodo, auto director for Unifor, believes the union still has a lot of time to figure out how to keep the 2,500 workers at the plant employed.

Work on six-speed transmissions made at the Warren, Michigan, transmission plant would stop August 1, while the Baltimore transmission plant would stop production April 1, GM said.

On top of the previously announced closure of the assembly plant in Gunsan, Korea, GM will also cease the operations of two additional plants outside North America by the end of next year.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford was less optimistic, saying GM told him there is not much the government can do.

In February, the Oshawa Assembly plant starts making Light Duty GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverados in addition to Cadillac XTS and Chevrolet Impala.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles got out of small and midsize cars two years ago, while Ford announced plans to shed all cars but the Mustang sports vehicle in the U.S. in the coming years.

The cuts will happen during the remainder of the year and the first quarter of 2019. Some workers at the Oshawa plant walked off the job Monday.

This is the biggest restructuring at GM in a decade, with 15% of its workforce being eliminated in North America. "GM workers have been part of the heart and soul of Oshawa for generations - and we'll do everything we can to help the families affected by this news get back on their feet".

Premier Doug Ford is acknowledging a very hard day for GM and its suppliers, after learning of the closure of the Oshawa Assembly Plant. The automaker intends to close the plant in December, 2019.

"I don't know how I'm going to feed my family", he said outside of the plant's south gate, where workers instituted a blockade for trucks from the entrance.

Meanwhile, GM's Barra said Monday the company will be investing in autonomous and electric vehicle technology.

"General Motors' decision today... will not go unchallenged by the UAW", said Terry Dittes, the union's vice president in charge of negotiations with GM.

A White House official said that Trump spoke with Barra on Sunday, before the closures were publicly announced. "He said the ship has already left the dock".

"We need to make sure that we are well positioned to compete, not just over the next few years, but well beyond", she said.

  • David Armstrong