Baltimore plant seems safe -- for now

December 19, 1991|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,Evening Sun Staff

Detroit failed yesterday to make the nearly 4,000 workers at the General Motors Corp. assembly plant in Southeast Baltimore feel like rushing out to buy a new car.

But while there were no firm reassurances, the unofficial word is that the minivan plant on Broening Highway is safe, at least for now.

GM Chairman Robert C. Stempel said six North American assembly plants would be closed over the next four years, but he didn't identify those on the hit list.

Rodney A. Trump, president of Local 239 of the United Auto Workers union, said the Baltimore plant is scheduled to lose about 37 white-collar, salaried jobs as part of GM's corporate-wide cost cutting plan. The reductions, he said, would come through attrition and retirements.

Terry Youngerman, a spokesman for the Baltimore plant, declined to discuss the number of workers affected but said 37 is "fairly accurate."

There was nothing definite in Stempel's comments that assured the long-term future of the Baltimore plant, Youngerman said.

"Realistically, I don't think we are one of those that will close. I can't say I'm absolutely sure," he said, "but I don't see it in the

cards at this time.

"Down the road," Youngerman said, "I can't say."

He noted that there are very strong sales for the Chevrolet Astro and GMC Safari vans made here. Factory employees have been chalking up overtime to meet customer demand.

The vans produced here are due for a major restyling for the 1996 model year, and there is no guarantee that they will continue to be produced here. GM has said that "Baltimore is high on the list of contenders" for this work, but other plants also will be considered.

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