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GM plants in Missouri and Kansas evade closure

Monday, June 1, 2009 | 4:50 p.m. CDT; updated 5:35 p.m. CDT, Monday, June 1, 2009

ST. LOUIS — About 4,500 autoworkers in Missouri and Kansas found out Monday that their jobs were spared after General Motors released a plant closure list that did not include facilities in the suburbs of St. Louis and Kansas City.

GM filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and announced plans to close or idle a dozen plants nationwide. The automaker plans to restructure by reducing its size and giving a majority ownership to the federal government.

In Wentzville and Kansas City, Kan., workers, suppliers and community officials felt some measure of relief.

GM employs about 2,000 workers in Wentzville, where the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vans are manufactured 40 miles west of St. Louis.

"You hurt for the country, but we feel pretty good here in Wentzville," said Bob Swank, the city's economic development director. GM is Wentzville's largest employer, and the city estimates an impact of about $1.5 million on its general operating budget annually if GM were to shut down.

More than 2,500 at GM's Fairfax plant in Kansas City, Kan., work to make the Chevrolet Malibu and the Saturn Aura. The 2010 Buick LaCrosse will be built there as well.

GM's previous announcement that it would build the LaCrosse at the Kansas plant had many optimistic that the plant would remain open. Still, word that the plant wasn't on the closure list was a bright spot after months of tough news for the industry.

The feeling of relief extends well beyond GM. Woodbridge Corp. is based in Ontario but molds foam used in car seats at a plant in Riverside, near Kansas City. About 40 percent of the Riverside plant's business is tied to the Kansas City GM plant.

"I have a strong attachment to General Motors, and seeing that plant remain open," said Steve Manning, a former GM line supervisor who now serves as a plant manager for Woodbridge.

The downturn in the automotive industry has hurt suppliers like Woodbridge. Manning said the plant used to employ 140; Now, 90 people work there. He is hopeful the bankruptcy filing will help turn around GM and help its suppliers.

"It was a great company, and I look forward to it being a great company again," he said.

Phone messages left with General Motors officials in Missouri and Kansas were not returned.


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Comments

Tonya Lucz June 9, 2009 | 1:03 a.m.

They need to get to get rid of the people who has had way to much time in GM (people are too old to be working, people who can take their full retirement now & etc), people who are drinking, on drugs/taking drugs on the job, coming to GM drugged up or drinking/drunk, those who don't show up when they are supposed to on scheduled work week (I'm talking about those who takes off too often, not ones who takes off work once in a while). There are younger generations who need to keep their jobs at GM. GM, UAW & the Bankruptcy Court needs to take that in consideration & Obama needs to take this in consideration as well. Upper Management who abuses their jobs & financial status under GM needs to go as well. I think things would be alot better for GM & the workers as well as UAW. GM needs to be closely monitored on their money spendings, no more fancy parties, caterings, Black Tie affairs, fancy hotels, fancy cars, fancy jets,  no more over paid execs, managements, CEOs & etc. I pray that the Bankruptcy Court will make the right decisions regarding GM & the GM workers, it's not fair that the younger generations lose their jobs while the older folks who have way too much time (past their retirement) get to continue working & most of the older folk's homes are paid off as well as their vehicles & etc. The younger generations still has wife & kids to raise, pay on their homes, vehicles & etc & they are losing their homes, vehicles & etc because the older folkds refused to retire. Most of the older folk's has already accomplished (paid off most or all of their debts) their debts (homes, vehicles & etc). Before GM lays off lower Senority people, they need to let go of the people who have met or past their full retirement & then lay off from there.

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