GM Attemping To Sell Western Pa. Parts Plant As Option to Plant Closure

Sale of plant could save 400 manufacturing jobs.

PITTSBURGH (AP) – General Motors Corp. is trying to sell an auto parts stamping plant in West Mifflin that was slated for closure, but cannot guarantee the property will continue to be used for manufacturing, a GM spokesman said Tuesday.

If the event that GM cannot sell the plant, they will continue with plans to close it by the end of next year, GM spokesman Dan Flores said. Union officials, however, expressed optimism that selling the plant could save its 400 manufacturing jobs.

To save $7 billion, GM announced in November that it was cutting 30,000 jobs companywide and closing 12 plants by 2008.

Last week, a union newsletter told workers that GM had advised the union that the company was trying to sell the plant, said Rick Mismas, shop chairman of United Auto Workers Local 544.

Mismas told The Associated Press on Tuesday that GM has moved equipment into the 57-year-old plant since announcing the looming cutbacks. The new equipment increases the plant's capacity and broadens the types of products that can be made there, he said. Also, the plant has gotten more work in recent months, Mismas said.

Those factors have led to speculation that the plant could be sold to another automaker or parts supplier, Mismas said.

''The manufacturing capability is greater than we ever had in this plant,'' said Mismas, who has worked there more than 30 years.

Flores said the company often moves equipment from plant to plant to keep up with demand for specific parts. The West Mifflin plant, which is just east of Pittsburgh, now primarily makes metal parts for Chevrolet Cobalts assembled in Lordstown, Ohio.

Even if the site is sold, however, that does not mean it will remain a manufacturing plant, Flores said.

''We certainly have a long history of working very cooperatively with the communities where we have operations and devising plans for our idled facilities,'' Flores said. ''There's a lot of things that we've done with plants that we've decommissioned and ceased production in.''

The West Mifflin plant had 520 union workers when GM announced the cutbacks in November. Since then, 230 workers have opted for buyouts ranging from $35,000 to $140,000. About 150 of those workers have already left the plant and the other 80 will by year's end, Mismas said.

GM has hired about 80 temporary workers to maintain production at the plant.

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