Schaefer upbeat about local GM plant

December 09, 1992|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,Staff Writer

Gov. William Donald Schaefer met with top management of the General Motors Corp.'s Baltimore plant yesterday and, although he received no promises of a long-term future for the plant, he said he was somewhat optimistic that GM would maintain its minivan factory here.

The governor came away more convinced than ever "that all of the ingredients are there for what we hope will be a bright future," Mark L. Wasserman, secretary of the state's Department of Economic and Employment Development, said after the private two-hour session at the Broening Highway complex.

Mr. Wasserman added that, under terms of an agreement with GM, state officials could not discuss the meeting except to confirm that the two sides met and that the governor was eager to help make the Baltimore plant as competitive as possible.

GM has said in the past that when it begins producing a restyled van for the 1996 model year, it might shift that work to another plant, leading to a shutdown of the Baltimore factory.

Mary Ann Tyler, a GM spokeswoman in Pontiac, Mich., said yesterday that the financially troubled automaker, which announced a number of plant closings last week, has still not made a decision about the future of the Baltimore plant.

Another participant at yesterday's meeting, Rodney A. Trump, president of Local 239 of the United Auto Workers union, said he was more convinced than ever that Baltimore would be building the GM van well into the future. Mr. Trump's union represents the hourly workers at the plant.

Mr. Trump's encouragement stems from GM's announcement last week that it would end production of several factories after the 1995 or 1996 model years.

"By the sheer fact that they didn't mention Baltimore," he said, "supports that fact that we have a future. We were not included in their shutdown plans."

GM is the city's largest manufacturing employer, with about 3,400 jobs. The company has said that it pumps about $1 billion into the regional economy each year through its payroll and acquisitions from area suppliers.

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