$3 million a week is lost by idling of city GM plant Strikes in Ohio have laid off 84,000 VTC

March 14, 1996|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF

The United Auto Workers strike against two General Motors Corp. brake production plants in Dayton, Ohio, continues to take its toll of GM vehicle assembly plants across the country and is beginning to have an impact on Maryland's already sluggish economy.

Yesterday, GM added its Janesville, Wis., plant to its list of vehicle assembly factories idled by the nine-day strike. Talks were held in Dayton yesterday but there was little progress toward a settlement, a GM spokesman said.

The Baltimore plant, which produces the Chevrolet Astro and GMC Safari vans, closed Tuesday evening, and 2,600 of the plant's 3,100 employees were laid off. Only salaried office workers and factory maintenance people were working yesterday.

The plant shutdown dealt another blow to Maryland's shaky economy, said Michael Conte, director of the Regional Economic Studies Program at the University of Baltimore.

Based on rough calculations, Dr. Conte said the plant closing takes about $3 million a week out of the local economy in salaries alone. "And that's a very conservative estimate," he added, indicating that the toll could be higher.

The Broening Highway plant's suppliers in the Baltimore area have been forced to curtail production and may begin laying off workers early next week. The companies supply the plant with seats, dashboards and other components.

As of last night, 22 of GM's 28 active assembly plants have been affected by the strike. At Janesville, only one of two assembly lines were shut down yesterday; it was a line that produces Chevrolet Kodiak and GMC Topkick medium-duty sport utility vehicles.

The strike has resulted in layoffs of more that 84,000 workers at assembly plants and other GM parts factories.

James Hagedon, a GM spokesman in Dayton, said the two sides met for about two hours Tuesday night and for an hour yesterday, "but there was no progress on substantive issues."

A union spokesman, who asked not to be identified, echoed GM's assessment of the situation and added: "We are ready to negotiate anytime the company is."

Company officials say a complete shutdown of all its vehicle production units could come in a few days.

Pub Date: 3/14/96

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