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BREAKING 7-29-08 GM Cuts 2nd Shift at S'port Plant; Jindal Pledges "Will do whatever it takes."
Tuesday, Jul 29, 2008 7:41am

SHREVEPORT, LA (By: Tom Pace, Executive Editor, Talk of the Town) BREAKING: AUTOMOTIVE NEWS 7-29-08  The news spread like wildfire on Monday, July 28th: the evening shift of General Motors Shreveport plant will be eliminated on September 29th, that will lay-off 798 employees locally. 

That news prompted La. Gov. Bobby Jindal to say, "We're willing to do whatever it takes...spare no effort... leave no stone unturned...to get this facility back to full employment." Click here to listen to the enitre news conference, recorded by Tom Pace, from "The Talk of the Town."

Monday, Jindal made an unscheduled trip to Shreveport, to meet with Mayor Cedric Glover and others, to pledge the state's immediate support. 

There was a ray of good news, as Gov. Jindal said the September launch of GM's Hummer H3T, also manufactured at the Shreveport plant, was still on schedule. Trish Williford of KTBS-TV3 filed this report.

Joining the Governor in an evening news conference were Mayor Cedric Glover; La. Secretary of Economic Development, Stephen Moret; Director of Workforce Development, Tim Barfield; President of UAW Local 2166, Morgan Johnson; Woody Wilson and Randy Lucky from the Caddo Parish Commission; and others. 

Moret said this problem was caused by an unprecedented drop in automobile sales, from 17 million units to 12 million units this past year. 

The Governor also announced that he, along with Mayor Glover and Secretary Moret will be flying to GM's headquarters in Detroit, to meet with GM North America President Troy Clark in the next few weeks. 

The Shreveport plant will also be closed the week of Aug. 25. The move leaves a total of 765 workers at the plant 675 hourly and 90 salaried.

According to CNN, General Motors Corp. said Monday it will cut production by another 117,000 vehicles, citing continued weakness in consumer demand for pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles.

GM (GM, Fortune 500) spokesman Tony Sapienza said the Detroit-based automaker will achieve the cuts by eliminating one shift each at its Moraine, Ohio, and Shreveport, La., plants. Most of the cuts will affect production of trucks and sport utility vehicles.

The cuts bring GM's total production cuts to just under the 300,000 units company officials had hoped to cut this year, Sapienza said.

GM also is looking at the possibility of idling production at other truck and SUV plants later this year to further align its offerings with consumer demand, he said.

Record-high gas prices and a weak overall economy have led to a steep drop in U.S. sales of trucks and SUVs this year, as consumers have opted for small, more fuel-efficient passenger cars or put off buying new vehicles all together.

GM's U.S. sales were down about 16% for the first half of this year, largely as a result of a plunge in truck sales, and it's not the only automaker facing lower demand.

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