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Palace Chrysler-Jeep

GM hires some, lays off others



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Calibration of the new equipment requires some cars to be built. (click for larger version)
February 09, 2011 - By Gabriel Ouzounian

Review staff writer

General Motors will be laying off more skilled labors from their Orion Assembly Plant, but for other unemployed auto workers, the act has a silver lining.

While more than 130 skilled tradesman will be facing indefinite layoffs, Orion Assembly Plant Manager Alicia Boler-Davis said the plant is readying to begin production, and that means bringing back laid-off workers.

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"We had the first of the employees begin to come back in fall of 2010, and they continue to come back as they're needed," said Boler-Davis. "We will continue bringing back skilled tradesmen through the third quarter of 2011.

"[The returning workers] are very excited and engaged about coming back to work, excited about the new product at the plan, and the environment has been a positive one."

The Orion Assembly Plant was idled in November 2009, and was originally slated to be closed. However the decision was made to refit the plant to produce two new small cars - the Chevrolet Sonic and the Buick Verano - with some skilled laborers staying on to build and equip the factory. Yet now that the renovations are mostly finished, these skilled labors are no longer needed, hence the layoffs.

Boler-Davis said that laborers returning to work would not recognize the plant, as so much has changed with the renovations, which began in summer of 2010.

"We have a brand new paint shop, we have made significant changes to the assembly area, and a lot of work has been done in the main production departments," said Boler-Davis. "Right now there is very little installation work, and we're concentrating more on tuning the equipment that has gone in."

She added that while the plant will be operating with fewer employees than before the idling, the Flint Assembly Plant will be adding a third shift to make room for returning workers with no place in Orion.

In relation to working with the township offices, Boler-Davis commented positively, saying that the two entities had a great working relationship, stay on track for the opening of the plant, and that Orion Township wants GM to be successful.

The Orion Assembly Plant was chosen from three different plants to produce the cars, winning out over assembly plants Jamesville, WI and Spring Hill, TN.

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