DETROIT -- In a nationwide teleconference today, General Motors Corp. Chairman Robert Stempel is expected to open the next traumatic chapter in GM history -- including cost-cutting measures to deal with a $3.5 billion loss for 1991 and some plant closings that will spare Michigan's Willow Run assembly plant but could sacrifice a Texas factory.

Mr. Stempel also may announce other plant closings and comment on efforts to trim thousands of white-collar jobs, said GM and United Auto Workers officials who asked not to be named.

"You might as well get all the bad news out at once," said a GM official.

Mr. Stempel touched off a furor with a similar teleconference on Dec. 18, when he said the company would close 21 plants and cut 74,000 jobs by 1995. He said GM would consolidate Caprice/Roadmaster/Cadillac Brougham production either at Willow Run or at a plant in Arlington, Texas.

At Willow Run, 2,300 blue-collar workers are optimistic, and happy two months of uncertainty are ending.

Jerry Clifton, bargaining chairman of UAW Local 1776 at the plant, and many workers said they believe the plant will survive.

"General Motors is in the business of making money, and Willow Run is a place General Motors can make money," he said.

UAW officials at the Arlington plant, which employs 3,200 blue-collar workers, also were optimistic.

"Everybody's confident we've got the inside shot," said Dave Perdue, president of UAW Local 276.

High-level GM and UAW officials along with independent analysts expect Willow Run to survive. But they say there's a possibility that another product may be assigned to Arlington.

At today's teleconference, Mr. Stempel is expected to report a fourth quarter loss that will bring GM's 1991 red ink to about $3.5 billion. On top of that, there will be a one-time charge for plant closings and job cuts that could add another $3 billion to the final loss.

GM officials have confirmed plans to move a variety of white-collar jobs, such as planning and finance, out of the three car and truck groups, and into a new, centralized management structure for North American operations.

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