Metal Center to lay off 240

The auto industry seems to be going through a large implosion recently …

Lansing State Journal
General Motors Corp. will idle 240 workers at the Lansing Metal Center after Feb. 10.
The world’s largest automaker said in November that it will close the metal stamping plant with 1,200 workers sometime this year. The layoffs are the first reductions at the plant since then.

MORE PAIN AHEAD: Ford lays out deep cuts, but details unclear
Detroit Free Press

This is only the beginning.

Ford Motor Co. workers who thought Monday’s Way Forward plan would resolve their anxieties and questions about the company’s future — by identifying which plants might be closed, which executives might leave or what new products the company might sell in the future — were left hanging.

Indeed, the Dearborn-based automaker, which announced Monday a $2-billion profit for 2005, laid out the framework for a bold 6-year plan that promises to slash costs deeper than expected to restore profitability to its struggling North American operations within two years. Those operations posted a pretax loss of $1.6 billion last year.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bill Ford, determined to protect the company founded by his great-grandfather, said the automaker would idle 14 manufacturing facilities, including seven assembly plants and, locally, the Wixom Assembly Plant. From 25,000 to 30,000 factory jobs and 12% of the company’s officers will be cut by 2012.

However, that plan is still a work in progress. Ford identified just one-third of the plants it intends to idle Monday, because it has not yet decided on the others. Two more assembly plants will be identified by the end of the year, while the remaining cuts will be announced later.
The facilities targeted for closure so far include assembly plants in Wixom, St. Louis, Mo., and Atlanta. Two parts plants also were named, Batavia Transmission in Ohio and Windsor Casting in Ontario.

Production at one plant, St. Thomas Assembly in Ontario, also will be reduced to one shift.

Interesting analysis from the Globe and Mail … Will Bill be able to go the distance?

Analysts ask whether Bill is Ford tough
In his senior thesis at Princeton University many years ago, William Clay Ford Jr. defended his great-grandfather Henry Ford’s hard-nosed stand against unionism in the 1930s.

Now, the scion of the world’s most famous automotive family may be headed for his own showdown with the United Auto Workers, and analysts question whether he has the toughness to follow in the founder’s footsteps.
He acknowledged the company must shed its plodding style and become far more innovative in order to start making cars that North American drivers will want to buy, with a cost structure that allows it to compete with foreign auto makers.

“My great-grandfather once said of the first car he ever built: ‘If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse,’ ” Mr. Ford told a news conference in Detroit.

“At Ford, we’re going to figure out what people want before they even know it — and then we’re going to give it to them. It’s where we began and it’s where we must go.”

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