GM suppliers to cut 643 jobs when Spring Hill plant closes

September 22, 2009

GM suppliers to cut 643 jobs when Spring Hill plant closes

By Bonna Johnson

Two major suppliers to the General Motors plant have given notice to the state that they plan to lay off a combined 643 workers when the Spring Hill facility shuts down in November.

Penske Logistics LLC says it will lay off 300 and Johnson Controls is cutting 343. Both are in Maury County, where ITW Shippers Products also said it has laid off 59 employees, according to a report from the Department of Labor and Workforce Development on Monday.

Around the state last week, five companies told the state they were shedding 1,073 jobs.

The GM plant is to close on Nov. 25 when production of the Chevrolet Traverse moves to Michigan. It is unclear if GM will begin production of another vehicle there at some point.

"We’re hoping this is not a prolonged event," said Randy Ryerson, a Penske spokesman.

Of the Penske layoffs, 250 were warehouse workers and 50 worked in management. Their jobs will end on Nov. 23.

"We sincerely regret having to take this action but our customer’s decision has left us with no alternative," said William Allport, Penske vice president of labor relations in a notice to state officials last week.

A third major supplier for the GM plant, Premier Manufacturing Support Services, employs about 295 hourly workers. "We were hoping against hope that something might change," said Jan McKeel, executive director of South Central Tennessee Workforce Alliance, an agency that connects displaced workers with new skills and jobs in an eight-county area, including Maury County.

McKeel’s agency will be asking for at least $5 million more in federal emergency grants to help with scholarships and training for the GM-related layoffs, she said. GM will also apply for additional federal benefits for its workers, she said.


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