About 90 workers at the General Motors Corp. assembly plant in Southeast Baltimore will lose their jobs by the end of the year as the company adjusts to declining production, company and union officials said yesterday.
Jeffrey S. Kuhlman, a spokesman for the Baltimore plant, said the layoff will apply only to temporary workers. He said they are workers who were hired last year as the plant beefed up its work force to meet strong consumer demand for the Chevrolet Astro and GMC Safari vans made here.
Mr. Kuhlman, who is based in Pontiac, Mich., said the temporary workers were hired during the peak production period between December and June. They were hired with the understanding that their jobs may not be permanent, he said. Mr. Kuhlman said the plant employees were working a lot of overtime during that period to match supply with consumer demand.
Rodney A. Trump, president of United Auto Workers Local 239, which represents the 3,400 hourly workers at the plant, said he thought the work-force reduction was related to some changes in the design of the 1996 vans that began rolling off the assembly line this month.
"The new vans have fewer parts and they wanted to pare down the work force to adjust for the changes in design," Mr. Trump said.
According to the union executive, the temporary workers were "hired off the street and are paid a lower salary [than permanent workers] and have no benefits."
Mr. Trump said there was a possibility that some of the workers might be recalled at a later date.
"But there are no guarantees," he said. "It will depend on how many workers we lose through attrition."
Mr. Trump said the plant had more than 500 temporary workers and the union has been successful in converting all of them to permanent positions with the exception of the 90 facing layoff.
The last layoff at the Baltimore plant was in February 1991. According to Mr. Trump, the company eliminated more than 400 jobs as it reduced the number of vans rolling off the assembly line to 42 units per hour from 47.
The union charged at the time that the company eliminated too many jobs for those left on the line to perform their work safely.
The issue led to a four-week strike that summer that was settled only after GM agreed to add 46 workers to the assembly line.