GM production will be down 3 weeks in March
By Kalea Hall
Workers at the General Motors Lordstown Complex will be idled for three weeks in March.
In early February, GM announced that it would have several down weeks at the plant this year to align production of the Chevrolet Cruze with market demand for the compact car.
Production will be down during the weeks of March 13, 20 and 27.
The dates are subject to change.
“Traditionally, January and February are slower months for the industry as a whole,” said Robert Morales, president of United Auto Workers Local 1714. “[We] continue to produce quality [Cruzes] each and every day ... [and] hope that the consumers start purchasing smaller vehicles.”
January Cruze sales actually were up 38.9 percent year-over-year, but analysts see no end in sight for the trend of consumers buying sport utility vehicles over compact and midsize cars.
The workers affected by March’s three-week shutdown can apply for unemployment benefits during the down weeks.
Other local plants that support GM Lordstown also will be down.
“Whenever they are down, we are down,” said Jose Arroyo, business representative for the United Steel Workers at Comprehensive Logistics in Austintown.
Comprehensive Logistics does sequencing for the Lordstown plant. The plant has 350 employees in the USW Local 0621.
This week is the first week the plant is back on a full schedule of two shifts after losing its third shift in January. The stamping side of the plant still has three shifts.
“Things seem to be back on track,” Morales said. “[Workers] are settling into their new departments. It’s still an adjustment period.”
Lack of demand for small cars as consumers switch to the sport utility vehicles and trucks is also what led to the end of the third shift, which was added in 2010 when the Cruze came to Lordstown.
The loss led to about 235 layoffs on the fabrication side of the plant and more than 600 on the assembly side.
About 100 union members at Comprehensive were laid off from the end of the third shift. At Magna Seating Systems in Lordstown, where the Cruze seats are built, 75 employees were laid off. At Jamestown Industries in Austintown, where the front and rear bumpers for the Cruze are built, 15 were laid off.
Glenn Johnson, president of the UAW Local 1112, could not be reached for comment.