NEW YORK General Motors Corp. said Monday it will cut shifts at plants in Ohio and Louisiana, eliminating 1,760 jobs, as part of the automaker's previously announced plan to reduce vehicle production due to weak demand for trucks and sport utility vehicles.
GM spokesman Tony Sapienza said the Detroit automaker will eliminate one shift each at its Moraine, Ohio, SUV plant and Shreveport, La., truck plant, cutting production by about 117,000 vehicles.
The Moraine plant will eliminate the second shift effective Sept. 29, affecting 1,000 of the plant's more than 2,000 hourly and salaried workers, GM said. At Shreveport, which employs nearly 2,000 people, about 760 will lose their jobs, Sapienza said.
The cuts bring GM's truck and SUV production cuts to just under the 300,000 units company officials had hoped for this year, Sapienza said.
GM already has been idling various truck and SUV production for weeks at a time to reach its goal and align its offerings with consumer demand, he said. At the same time, GM is adding shifts at plants that make the fast-selling Chevrolet Malibu and Cobalt cars.
GM said last month that the Moraine plant and three other North American pickup truck and SUV plants would close by 2010 as part of what Chief Executive Rick Wagoner said is a permanent shift in consumer preferences to small cars and crossovers. As part of a plan to ride out the slumping market and save $15 billion through 2009, GM said July 15 that it would accelerate those closures, but the company has not revealed details.
The local union president at the Ohio plant said the cut announced Monday was sooner than expected, and employees thought the second shift would last at least until the end of the year.
"We did expect some kind of adjustments, but never did I expect it would be the end of September," said Gaylen Turner, president of the International Union of Electronic Workers-Communication Workers of America Local 798.
Record-high gas prices and a weak overall economy have led to a steep drop in U.S. sales of trucks and SUVs this year, as consumers have opted for small, more fuel-efficient passenger cars or put off buying new vehicles all together.
GM's U.S. sales were down about 16 percent for the first half of this year, largely as a result of a plunge in truck sales, and it's not the only automaker facing lower demand.