GM transmission plant to furlough 239 workers

The Baltimore Sun

The General Motors Powertrain Baltimore Transmission Plant will likely have to shut down for a week next month unless demand for the company's vehicles improves.

A spokesman for the plant said yesterday it is planning to close shop and temporarily lay off all 239 of it hourly workers for a week beginning Feb. 23. Seventy-nine employees have been laid off since last year because of a slowdown in production at the plant.

It is temporarily closing because demand for GM vehicles is expected to remain weak as economic turmoil continues to hurt auto sales.

"It's all based on market demand and people purchasing vehicles," said spokesman John Raut. "It has nothing to do with our facility."

Conditions aren't expected to improve soon.

In a separate announcement yesterday, GM lowered its sales predictions even more for this year, forecasting that 10.5 million vehicles would be sold. It previously had predicted 12 million in sales for 2009 when it asked lawmakers for $18 billion in loans, saying the lower figure was a worst-case scenario.

GM received $4 billion from the government at the end of December. It is supposed to receive $5.4 billion more today and could get the remaining $4 billion in February if Congress releases more money from its $700 billion financial bailout.

The White Marsh facility supplies transmissions to three of the 20 plants that GM announced last month would close as the Detroit automaker reduces vehicle production.

White Marsh workers make Pontiac six-speed Allison transmissions and a hybrid 2-mode.

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