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Saturday, August 02, 2008


Is GM Cutting Baltimore Jobs or Not?

It’s no surprise that high gas prices have cut in to automobile manufacturer GM’s profit margin. When people feel as if they can barely afford to run their car, they aren’t likely to drop the amount of cash necessary to purchase a new one. Because of this the company has announced that it will be laying off a portion of its employees, cutting benefits for others and making various other efforts to make up for declining sales.

So far, GM’s spokespeople have been vague as to how this will effect Baltimore jobs with the plant and how many people may need to start searching for a new place to work.
“People are worried,” said Fred Swanner, who is the president of the United Auto Workers Union Local 239. “No one knows if it’ll have an effect on our plant or not.” This branch of the UAW Union represents approximately 550 individuals who work in plants in White Marsh and Hunt Valley.

A majority of these people work at GM’s White Marsh operation in Baltimore County. This facility builds transmissions for trucks and sport utility vehicles, both of which are have relatively low gas mileage. With gasoline now over $4.00 a gallon in most cities across the nation, these automobiles have had some of most dismal sales numbers. Knowing this does not help to ease the minds of GM’s Baltimore workforce.

Aside from layoffs, GM executives recently announced that they would be eliminating medical insurance for the retired who held white-collar company jobs. The employer also plans on cutting the pay of salaried workers by 20 percent and suspending the company’s annual stock dividend. There has also been talk of speeding up pre-planed plant closings in addition to decreasing the number of individuals employed at other locations.

White Marsh’s plant maybe skipped over for the harshest of the layoffs despite the fact that the facility has a had in SUV and truck parts. The plant’s saving grace could be it’s involvement in making power trains for some of GM’s hybrid vehicles. If gas continues to rise, these vehicles are expected to see an increase in popularity.

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger of Cockeysville agrees with this. “It’s bad new to lose jobs anywhere but because Allison is such a modern, technological plant and…because they’re focusing on the hybrid, I think there’s a good chance they’ll be left alone in this situation,” said Ruppersberger.
Currently, GM is Baltimore County’s 37th largest employer. The number of individuals working at this location is less that 1,800.


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