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.
"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.
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.