GM shuts down Willow Run manufacturing plant

Article by Christian Andrei, on December 24, 2010

Another facility -- the Willow Run manufacturing plant -- falls victim to General Motors’ bankruptcy and restructuring. The 5-million-square-foot powertrain plant, which has been operating for 68 years, has been shut down.

It is owned by Motors Liquidation Corp., a remnant of the former General Motors Corp. Chris Lee, a spokesman for the reorganized General Motors Co., said that about 300 plant workers will either “retire, transfer to another campus or go on layoff.”

The plant produced its last powertrain on Dec. 15. Earlier this month, the reorganized GM offered buyouts for skilled trade workers at Willow Run and 12 other plants. The workers will have to decide whether to accept the $60,000 offer to retire or leave the company.

The offer expires March 1, 2011. According to GM spokeswoman Kim Carpenter, the number of workers that have taken the buyout is unknown. It was in 1953 that GM acquired the plant in Ypsilanti Township from automaker Kaiser-Fraser Corp. GM made the purchase after an August fire devastated GM's Livonia “Hydra-Matic” plant.

After only three months, its first automatic transmissions were being manufactured. What the plant has been doing recently is supplying transmissions for the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant and components for other facilities.

About 10 years ago, there were more than 5,000 workers at the plant and it built almost 22,000 component parts daily. But when GM fell into bankruptcy, its staff had narrowed down to 1,364 workers.

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