GM's Fairfax plant will eliminate 1 shift; nearly 1,000 layoffs - KCTV5

GM's Fairfax plant will eliminate 1 shift; nearly 1,000 layoffs planned

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A lower demand for passenger cars across the industry has caused the to adjust production of some models. (AP) A lower demand for passenger cars across the industry has caused the to adjust production of some models. (AP)
KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) -

General Motors announced changes to production plans at its Fairfax plant on Friday.

The plant will go from three production shifts to two.

A lower demand for passenger cars across the industry has caused them to adjust production of some models. Right now, the plant makes Chevrolet Malibus. However, more people are shifting toward crossovers.

Beginning in late September, the plant will operate on two production shifts.

The company says some layoffs will accompany the move. They say nearly 1,000 workers will be affected by the move but did not specify how they would be affected.

Currently, the plant employs more than 3,000 hourly employees to cover the three shifts.

Employees were notified this morning and a few took to social media to say what an emotional day it was. 

Some said they were not surprised by the news. They said, with the industry, ups and downs are expected. 

"It's happened before," said Mario Guzman, an employee. "It's not the first time it's happened. It goes in cycles. It's a cycle business. It was expected; low sales for awhile." 

Regardless of whether or not it was expected, the impact will be felt by those who have been in the building for some time. Rick has worked there for 29 years. "Until they get this new vehicle and sales pick up, it might be hard living," he said. 

"I feel sorry for all my brothers," one employee said. "I hope everything works out and everybody gets back to work. I think it will. The economy will pick up. Everything will be alright."

"I'm going to stay, but I just worry about the people that just got hired on a year or two ago about to lose their job," said employee Andre Stevenson. "You know, that's messed up. They got cars, families, houses. How are they going to do it?"

GM says they are well positioned in the auto industry due to launching a record number of crossovers that compete in the industry’s fastest-growing segment.

The company says they believe the steps they are taking will provide the smallest impact on employment at the plant going forward, compared to other moves they could have made to adjust their bottom line. They say they are not providing more detail about our plans for competitive reasons.

Before Friday's announcement, union officials say the plant will extend its normal summer shutdown. They say the Fairfax plant would close for as long as five weeks in June and July. The summer shutdown normally lasts two weeks.

Mark Holland, Mayor and CEO of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, KS, issued this statement:

“Upon hearing news of layoffs at General Motors’ Fairfax Assembly Plant, my first concern was for the workers and their families. Today, I reached out to the United Autoworkers Union #31 to express that concern and to let them know that we are ready to help in any way we can to minimize the impact on the workers and their families.

No community likes to receive news of a major employer laying off employees. We are fortunate in Kansas City, Kansas, to have a strong partnership with GM. That partnership has helped GM invest $800 million in its Fairfax plant since 2009. I am hopeful that GM will remain strong and that the Fairfax plant will grow back to its full employment capacity very soon.

We are also fortunate that the Unified Government, in partnership with Wyandotte Economic Development Council, has worked hard for more than a decade to diversify our economy so we can protect against downturns in specific sectors. In recent years, we have seen the growth of our health care, service, corporate, and small to mid-size manufacturing sectors, with 11,000 jobs added in just the last four years. I am confident that this work will continue to create a healthy economy in Wyandotte County and help us find new opportunities for the affected GM employees.” 

Officials with the union referred calls to GM corporate, who declined to comment on camera.

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