Leaders disappointed but say Spring Hill plant will prevail - WKRN News 2

Leaders disappointed but say Spring Hill plant will prevail

Posted: Updated: June 26, 2009 05:26 PM CDT
Mike O'Rourke, UAW Local 1853 President Mike O'Rourke, UAW Local 1853 President
Mike Herron, UAW Local 1853 Chairman Mike Herron, UAW Local 1853 Chairman

SPRING HILL, Tenn. - General Motors has officially announced it has chosen its plant in Orion Township, Michigan to build its new small car.

The Michigan facility was among three plants being considered and beat out plants in Spring Hill, Tennessee and Janesville, Wisconsin.

The decision leaves nearly 3,000 employees at GM's Spring Hill plant wondering what's next.

The facility currently builds the Chevy Traverse but will go idle later this year when production of the crossover vehicle shifts to Michigan.

An estimated 2,500 of the plant's employees will lose their job.

In a press conference held Friday morning at the UAW hall in Spring Hill, UAW, local and county officials expressed their disappointment but said leadership will push forward, work with General Motors and land new product for the facility.

"This is just one product in the product allocation process and we've had a lot here in Spring Hill.  You know, you win some you lose some," said Mike Herron, chair of the UAW Local 1853.

Herron said not securing production of the automaker's new small car is not reflective of the lack of effort of anyone on their team or on the lack of effort of anyone in Tennessee.

He said there has been tremendous support for the Spring Hill facility and he "cannot believe for one minute" GM will ignore the $1 billion investment they've made in Spring Hill.

To the workers, Herron said, "You didn't loose this product, it just happened we weren't a good match and the incentives Tennessee offered were not enough."

He added Spring Hill has a "can-do" attitude and a workforce with "no boundaries."

"We have a world class workforce, a highly trained workforce and a site that can build anything in the world we want to build.  These will ultimately make a difference in landing new product," Herron said, adding there are "other products in the pipeline."

State Representative Ty Cobb also expressed his disappointment but said Spring Hill has a "bright future ahead."

"We just have to get through this short term problem," he said.

In addition, Rep. Cobb told workers he'll always be there for them.

"You're in my thoughts and prayers. I'll be here, at the UAW hall whenever you need me," he continued.

In a statement Governor Bredesen said while he was "obviously disappointed at the news" he was "encouraged that he confirmed that the company views the plant in Spring Hill as a very good facility that is likely to be an important part of GM's manufacturing strategy in the years ahead."

In talking with GM's President Troy Clarke he said he ultimately learned the Michigan incentive package was "too good to ignore."

Governor Bredesen said he is now "shifting our focus to helping the employees and families that will be affected by this decision."

"We've already begun working to develop training and assistance programs that will help Spring Hill workers affected by this decision and help them transition when assembly operations end this fall," he said.

Bredesen said "General Motors is, and will continue to be, an important part of Tennessee."
Spring Hill Mayor Mike Dinwiddie said it's "unfortunate to see politics play such a large role in what should be strictly a business decision."

"There will be other cars that need to be manufactured in the future and we expect Spring Hill will play a part in making those future cars," a statement from the mayor continued.

Senator Corker too remained optimistic.

"There's no doubt that the Spring Hill facility is one of the most modern and state-of-the-art in the country and that Tennessee has an outstanding, capable and qualified workforce.  We will work closely with Governor Bredesen to in the end have a very positive outcome, and I hope that in the near future automobiles will again be made in Spring Hill, Tennessee," he said in a statement.

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