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The GM Baltimore transmission plant is located on Route 7 in White Marsh.
The GM Baltimore transmission plant is located on Route 7 in White Marsh. (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

As auto workers prepare to vote on a proposed deal that could end a 33-day strike against General Motors, local union officials have been told the automaker’s last plant in Maryland, a White Marsh transmission and electric motor factory, will remain closed.

The White Marsh plant is one of three GM facilities slated to close under a tentative deal GM negotiated with the United Auto Workers, said Guy White, shop chairman for Local 239, which represents workers at the White Marsh plant. Other sites include an assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio, and a powertrain factory in Warren, Michigan.

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“The handwriting has been on the wall,” White said Friday night.

The White Marsh facility and several others in North America were placed into “unallocated” status nearly a year ago, which meant no products would be made there. In May, the nearly 300 full-time, temporary and management workers in White Marsh were laid off. But White and others were holding out hope that negotiations would bring work to the plant once again.

White was called to a union meeting Thursday in Detroit along with shop chairmen and local presidents from around the country, where he was told “the UAW wasn’t able to secure work for those plants.”

About half the White Marsh workers already have moved on to other GM plants, while the rest either retired or quit, White said. In September, GM started offering 174 job openings in seven states to Baltimore area workers, some of whom may have moved only to find themselves walking a picket line in the strike.

About 48,000 union members have been on strike since Sept. 16. Membership is slated to vote on the proposed contract by 4 p.m. next Friday.

“We encourage the UAW to move as quickly as possible through the ratification process, so we can resume operations and get back to producing vehicles for our customers,” GM said in a statement.

Only seven White Marsh workers are left who are represented by Local 239, White said.

Workers put together the first truck transmission at the then new White Marsh plant in December 2000. GM had spent $216 million on a factory big enough to cover nearly nine football fields.

A few years later in 2005, the massive GM Baltimore Assembly plant on Broening Highway made it last van and closed, displacing about 1,100 workers. Amazon now has a distribution center on that former GM site.

If auto workers approve the proposed contract, the remaining few White Marsh employees “will go to work like we always do and the ball’s in GM’s court,” White said. “We work for GM. Until they tell us to stop coming, we’re going to keep going to work."

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