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GM's Van Nuys Plant Likely Target of More Layoffs

December 19, 1987|GREGORY CROUCH | Times Staff Writer

A new round of layoffs may be forthcoming at the General Motors plant in Van Nuys, company and unions officials said Friday, because of continuing poor sales of cars made there.

Local GM and United Auto Workers officials were sequestered in meetings Friday discussing ways to cut employment at the huge assembly plant, if layoffs are ordered by GM officials in Detroit.

"They're thinking about having a layoff," said Jerry Shrieves, local president of the UAW. "We're exploring as many possibilities as we can to save people's jobs." Shrieves said he expects some kind of action by February or March.

"We are looking at the production schedule, and it looks as if we are going to have to make some adjustments," said Kathleen Tanner, a GM spokeswoman in Detroit. "The union and management are looking at some alternatives." Neither side would say when a decision is expected.

Among the alternatives under discussion, they said, is a plan to keep all 4,000 workers on the payroll but only on a part-time basis. Day-shift employees would work for two weeks while night-shift employees were on layoff. Then night employees would work for two weeks, and day employees would go on layoff.

GM, suffering from slow car sales, has been laying off workers at plants across the country. On Friday, GM announced the layoffs of more than 2,000 employees at its Pontiac, Mich., and Lakewood, Ga., facilities. As of Dec. 1, more than 46,000 GM workers were on indefinite layoff.

Employees at the Van Nuys plant manufacture Pontiac Firebirds and Chevrolet Camaros. Both are underperforming the sales of more popular GM models, according to Chevrolet spokesman Ed Lechtzin. GM's Chevrolet division reported that sales of all its models between Jan. 1 and Dec. 10, 1987, were down 12% from the same period a year earlier. But sales of Camaros were down 25% and Firebirds were down 21% during that time.

Sluggish sales have built up GM's inventory. Dealers have a 150-day supply of Camaros and a 95-day supply of Firebirds, according to Automotive News, a trade publication. "There is a hefty supply," Lechtzin said.

Workers at the Van Nuys plant are already scheduled for a two-week layoff in January. GM announced last week that it is extending the scheduled January layoff at the Van Nuys plant from one week to two weeks. Workers now are scheduled to return Jan. 18.

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