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Published: Saturday, 9/13/2008

GM s Alexis Rd. plant to lay off almost 200

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Nearly 200 workers at General Motors Corp. s Toledo Powertrain Plant will be laid off indefinitely Monday, three days after the plant ceased making its traditional four-speed, rear-wheel drive transmission.

Production of the four-speed transmission ended yesterday, with workers at the Alexis Road plant having made several commemorative models in recent days to mark the end of an era at the 52-year-old plant, spokesman Wanda Wellman said.

On Monday, 193 workers will go on indefinite layoff while anther 190 workers begin making a new six-speed transmission at the plant. Another 240 workers will enter a jobs bank where they get full pay but can be assigned to other duties at the plant or elsewhere. By next week, 415 hourly workers will produce six-speed transmissions with 635 workers placed in the jobs bank, where they will get training to build new products, Ms. Wellman said.

The plant had employed up to 3,500 workers making 6,000 transmissions a day as recently as 2006. Through June, that number had fallen to 1,800 through buyouts and layoffs.

The plant began making full-sized four-speed transmissions in 1981, building more than 39.5 million units over a 27-year span. This summer, workers began making a new high-tech, six-speed transmission destined for GM s 2009-model full-sized trucks and sport utility vehicles.

Ray Wood, president of UAW Local 14, which represents workers at the plant, could not be reached for comment.

Earlier this year, GM began expanding the plant to make room for the six-speed, front-wheel-drive transmission to be used in several 2010-model small and midsized cars.

The plant and its workers have been recognized three times since 2003 as the most efficient Powertrain Division plant in North America.

GM has invested millions to move to new six-speed transmissions, which are expected to dramatically improve fuel economy in GM vehicles.

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at:lvellequette@theblade.comor 419-724-6091.



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