Penske plans to close van-hauling terminal

It won't be renewing contract with GM

127 to be laid off

November 03, 2001|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF

Penske Truck Leasing Co. said yesterday that it will close its Leaseway Auto Carrier terminal in Southeast Baltimore by the end of the year and lay off 127 workers.

The terminal, at 5900 Holabird Ave., transports vans produced at the nearby General Motors Corp. assembly plant to 15 East Coast states.

Leaseway's van-carrying contract with the plant expires Dec. 31 and Penske will not seek to renew it, said Louise Moyer, a spokeswoman for Penske in Reading, Pa. "We are getting out of that business," Moyer said. She said that Penske's decision "was economically driven," but she declined to elaborate.

In addition to hauling the Chevrolet Astro and GMC Safari vans, made at the GM plant, the Leaseway workers handle the loading of the vans on railcars for delivery across the country, Moyer said.

Frank Imbragulio, president of Teamsters Union Local 557, said the union is seeking to schedule meetings with GM, Leaseway and Penske officials with the hope of retaining at least some of the jobs.

"The company said they were losing money by hauling the GM vans," said Imbragulio. "We are in the process of trying to work something out. We are trying to retain some of the work, but nothing has been accomplished as of this time."

Penske is one of the nation's largest providers of transportation services. It acquired Leaseway in 1995, according to Moyer.

Penske operates approximately 206,000 heavy- , medium- and light-duty trucks and serves customers in more than 1,000 locations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, South America and Europe. It had revenue of $3.4 billion last year.

Moyer said Leaseway has had the GM plant contract for at least three years.

She said she did not know what will happen to the Leaseway terminal building after the van-hauling operations are shut down.

General Motors has sharply cut back on the number of vans produced at the Baltimore plant. Last year it eliminated the second shift.

In the first nine months of the year production of Astro and Safari vans was 39.8 percent lower than during the corresponding period last year.

General Motors has said that the Baltimore assembly plant will remain open at least until the third quarter of 2003.

After that date, the company says, the market will determine the future of the vans and the assembly plant.

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