GM eliminates shift at Michigan plant, cutting 1,100 jobs

General Motors said Monday that it will shift SUV production from its Lansing Delta Township assembly plant to its Spring Hill, Tennessee plant, laying off 1,100 workers in Michigan in May.

Paul Sancya/AP
This Friday, May 16, 2014, file photo, shows the General Motors logo at the company's world headquarters in Detroit.

General Motors said on Monday it is cutting 1,100 jobs at its Lansing Delta Township assembly plant in Michigan in May, as the carmaker moves production of a vehicle to Tennessee. 

Although GM has pledged to invest $1 billion in the United States, the largest US automaker has eliminated shifts and laid off workers at various plants in recent months. 

The Lansing plant, which will end its third shift on May 12 as GM shifts the production of a new version of the GMC Acadia SUV to Spring Hill, Tennessee, will continue to build the Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse after it retools for a month, according to GM spokesman Tom Wickham. 

"The new Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse enter the market at a time when crossovers have become the most vibrant, dynamic and fast-growing models of the industry," Erin Davis, GM's Lansing spokeswoman, said in a statement to the Lansing State Journal on Monday. 

For the hourly workers at the plant, which was opened in 1990 to manufacture Saturns and has received an investment of $583 million since 2014, the layoffs were expected. 

"This was a major vehicle change," Bill Reed, president of UAW Local 602, which represents the hourly workers at the Michigan plant, told the Lansing State Journal. "It was kind of expected this was going to happen.”

The announcement of the layoff came on the same day that GM said it has sold its faltering European car brands “Opel” and “Vauxhall” to PSA Group, French carmaker of Peugeot, for $2.33 billion, as The Christian Science Monitor reported on Monday. The deal, which makes PSA Group the second largest automaker in the continent, will advance GM’s ongoing “transformation,” the company said. 

“For GM, this represents another major step in the ongoing work that is driving our improved performance and accelerating our momentum,” Mary Barra, GM chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement on Monday. “We are reshaping our company and delivering consistent, record results for our owners through disciplined capital allocation to our higher-return investments in our core automotive business and in new technologies that are enabling us to lead the future of personal mobility.”

Though GM has added a significant number of jobs in the United States in recent years – the company had about 8,000 more employees at the end of 2016 than 2015 – Monday’s layoff news is the latest in a wave of job cuts it has planned. 

Citing a declining demand for cars as consumers prefer SUVs and other larger vehicles, GM said at the end of December it planned to cut nearly half of its workforce at its Detroit plant. In the previous month, the automaker also released its plan to cut about 2,000 jobs in its Ohio and Lansing Grand River plants in January. 

Amid pressure and criticism from President Trump on moving jobs to Mexico, the US automaker in January announced its $1 billion investment that it said would create or retain 7,000 jobs in the United States, including about 2,000 factory jobs, the Monitor reported on Jan. 17. The investment would also allow GM to move 450 pickup truck axle-making jobs from Mexico to Michigan. 

The investment plan announcement has since received a warm welcome from Trump.

GM “is committed to invest billions of dollars in its American manufacturing operation, keeping many jobs here that were going to leave. And if I didn't get elected, believe me, they would have left," Trump said at a news conference in February, according to Reuters. 

This report includes material from the Associated Press and Reuters.

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