Sunday, December 17, 2006

A Time of Change for Lansing, GM, and the UAW

A Time of Change for Lansing, GM, and the UAW
Sat December 9, 2006
Community, union resize GM future
By Tim Martin
Associated Press Writer

LANSING, Michigan — Piles of crushed concrete and broken brick wait to be hauled away as bulldozers tear down old General Motors Corp. factories that have stood for a century on the banks of the Grand River in downtown Lansing.

Behind the demolition, a gleaming white Cadillac factory built five years ago with state-of-the-art technology greets the next generation of auto workers.

GM has a far smaller presence in the Lansing area than it had just a few years ago. But the automaker’s new factories here are more efficient and better-suited to survive in the hyper-competitive automotive industry.

Some see elements of a model GM could borrow from as it reshapes itself to compete with Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and other foreign companies that have cut into its market share the past few decades.

"This is the factory model that will turn GM around, put it back on the map,” says Marion Glasscoe, who helps assemble the Cadillac CTS and STS sedans and the SRX crossover vehicle in the Lansing Grand River Assembly factory just blocks from the state Capitol. "We just had some hard times. But I think with what we’ve got coming forward, it’s going to turn GM completely around.”

Just west of Lansing in Delta Township, a factory that makes the GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook and soon will add the Buick Enclave .

The vehicle assembly plants are GM’s first to be built in the United States since Saturn began building cars in 1990 in Spring Hill, Tenn.

Meanwhile, GM’s older Lansing factories have been partially torn down or await potential buyers.

Were it not for innovative partnerships with the United Auto Workers and local government officials, the automaker might not have much of a presence left in Lansing.

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