GM Closing Canadian Transmission Plant

WINDSOR, Ontario (AP) -- Workers at General Motors Canada in Windsor, Ontario, rolled their final transmission off the line Wednesday as the automaker's last plant in the former capital of Canada's automotive industry prepared to shut down operations.

The closure of the plant -- which built transmissions for the Pontiac G5 and Chevy Cobalt -- ends 90 years in Windsor for GM.

Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis said this kind of closure is always a sobering time, and city officials are concerned about the 500 workers whose jobs are disappearing.

"In war and in peacetime, General Motors of Canada, with its various operations in Windsor, has been an integral and invaluable part of our city's life," Francis said.

Dan Garneau, the plant's senior human resources administrator, calls it the end of an era and a loss for the community, the workers and for charities that GM has supported.

"After today, there will be no more GM in Windsor and that's an unfortunate situation," Garneau said. "But it's the reality of the auto industry in North America, so we have got to really just go on with our lives."

GM was once one of the biggest employers in the city with more than 7,000 workers. The first GM investment in Windsor was a body plant in 1919 and operations grew over the years to create billions of dollars in investments and thousands of jobs in what Francis called Canada's Motor City.

But the recently struggling car manufacturer has dwindled over the years and in May 2008, GM eliminated 1,400 jobs in Windsor and announced it would close the transmission plant by the end of this month.

The federal and Ontario governments invested a total of US$10.1 billion in GM Canada in 2009 as the automaker battled to survive the economic downturn.

The plant closing Wednesday is its last remaining transmission plant in Windsor, Ontario. The company still has Canadian plants in Oshawa, Ingersoll and St. Catharines, Ontario.

More in Operations