Worry over GM's future continues in Spring Hill - WKRN News 2

Worry over GM's future continues in Spring Hill

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Despite a nearly $700 million facility upgrade just two years ago, many in Spring Hill are worried the General Motors plant could be vulnerable as the automaker is forced to make deep cuts to survive.

President Barack Obama has said he is confident that GM can "rise again", provided it undergo "a fundamental restructuring."

Despite cutting 60,000 employees in the last year, GM faces deeper cuts in the future.

"We need to keep that plant in our prayers and the working families of that plant in our prayers and hope that everything works out for the best for that company," Spring Hill Alderman Mike Dinwiddie has said.

He said the health of the GM plant is directly related to the well being of the city.

"In Maury County, about 30% to 40% of their payroll is directly related to the General Motors plant," Dinwiddie said.

The tough economy has hit the auto industry especially hard.

When the Saturn plant was retooled and became the GM plant, sales outlooks on the Chevy Traverse were optimistic.

Sales of the crossover vehicle have been below expectations, and the plant is operating at an estimated 24% capacity.

"To me, if you have a small car that's selling well, don't raise the price of it," said GM retiree Don Hover.   "You'll just keep making it and improving the car.  You'll sell more of [them] and make more money that way... instead of trying to make all your money on one car."

Dinwiddie said any changes to the Spring Hill plant would have impacts far beyond the nearly 3,000 hourly workers.

"The city derives a lot of its sales tax revenues from those employees at the plant," he said, "and if our sales tax revenues decrease, then it will impact the property tax revenues for the rest of the folks in the city, so we are all connected in one way or another."

Local union officials are divided about how the government is handling the automaker crisis.

Mike O'Rourke is president of the local United Auto Workers Local in Spring Hill.

He said the big bonuses for AIG and deep cuts for GM just don't add up.

"They say we can't break those contracts, but by God, we can break the UAW contract, and we're going to give them a haircut.  Fundamentally, are we really on the right path in this country? I wonder every day," said O'Rourke.

The union chairman, Mike Herron, is more diplomatic about the White House role.

Herron said, "I'm always concerned when you get that high a degree of involvement, but we've got a great degree of trust.  They've thrown the lifeline out there.  They've helped us through some very difficult times."

Herron said blue collar worker's doubts about President Obama stem from uncertainty.

GM is asking for more wage concessions and plant closings may be inevitable.

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