GM to temporarily lay off 560 workers at Romulus plant

GM to temporarily lay off 560 workers at Romulus plant
Fri, Jun 7 detroitnews.com

General Motors Co. said Friday it will lay off about 560 hourly and temporary workers at its Romulus Engine Plant over the next nine months while production on current products winds down and it retools the plant for a new V-6 engine that will come online in late 2015.

GM said 430 hourly workers, plusabout 130 temporary workers, will be impacted by the layoffs, which will begin in August, said GM spokesman Bob Wheeler. Another wave will happen by the end of the year, and all by the end of the first quarter 2014, Wheeler said.The layoffs will last until the plant is back operating in late 2015, hesaid.

In April, GM added $5 million to a previously announced November 2011 program to invest $385 million into Romulus Engine Plant. Employees knew layoffs would be part of the investment for a new fuel-sipping V-6 engine, GM said.

“This plant is going to be completely retooled,” Wheeler said. “Whatever is currently in there, is going to be decommissioned and removed and all new equipment is going to be installed.”

Wheeler said GM’s human resources department will work with the 141 salaried workers impacted by the move and help identify jobs for them at other GM locations. GM said some salaried workers may stay at the plant to help with the construction. The plant also employs about 130 skilled trades workers, the majority of whom will stay and work during construction.

The Romulus Engine Plant builds V-6 and V-8 engines for a number of GM vehicles. Production on the current V-6 and V-8 engines and engines it produces for marine and industrial uses will end in the first quarter of 2014, Wheeler said.

GM workers can file for unemployment benefits and will receive supplemental pay during the layoffs that for most workers equals about 75-80 percent of their pay. The temporary workers who are laid off will not receive the extra support, Wheeler said.

Romulus Engine has about 880 employees, including 739 hourly workers who are represented by United Auto Workers Local 163. UAW Local 163 officials could not be reached for comment Friday.

Some Romulus Engine workers over the past six months or so have transferred with V-8 production work toGM’s Tonawanda Engine Plant, Wheeler said.

Wheeler said it’s unknown now what will happen to the marine and industrial engine work Romulus Engine does.

He said when the plant relaunches production in late 2015, it expects to have 460 hourly workers and an unknown number of salaried workers. The plant will only make the new V-6 engine.

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