Image via the UAW Local 239’s Facebook page.
Image via the UAW Local 239’s Facebook page.

The White Marsh-based plant that makes transmissions for General Motors is one of five North American facilities that will cease operations in 2019, the auto company announced today.

Facing declines in sales and the overall number of car owners, GM says it is shutting down the plants and ending several car lines to streamline its operations and meet the changing demands of customers. Overall, a reported 14,700 blue- and white-collar employees will be laid off.

General Motors expects to save $6 billion in cash by 2020 after these cuts are made.

“The actions we are taking today continue our transformation to be highly agile, resilient and profitable, while giving us the flexibility to invest in the future,” GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said in a statement. “We recognize the need to stay in front of changing market conditions and customer preferences to position our company for long-term success.”

Opened in 2000, the 580,000-square-foot factory employs 310 workers, according to the automaker, and GM has promoted the factory’s green technology. In recent years, the company touted its growth in the Baltimore area as production of electric motors increased.

Currently, the factory produces the A1000 Transmission that goes in the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pick-up trucks.

A request for comment sent to the United Auto Workers Local 239, which represents the White Marsh employees, was not immediately returned. The national organization released a statement saying it plans to challenge the decision by GM, while adding the company was merely shifting production to China and Mexico.

“GM’s production decisions, in light of employee concessions during the economic downturn and a taxpayer bailout from bankruptcy, puts profits before the working families of this country whose personal sacrifices stood with GM during those dark days,” Terry Dittes, a vice president with the union and director of its GM Department, said in a statement. “These decisions are a slap in the face to the memory and recall of that historical American made bailout.”

In a statement, Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler said the county will offer job and counseling services to the affected employees and use the Eastpoint Career Center to try to match them with manufacturing jobs.

“Baltimore County stands with the workers and their families who are part of a decades-long GM manufacturing legacy in Baltimore, from advanced hybrid motors in White Marsh to vehicle production at Broening Highway,” he said. “Our workers are second to none.”

Broening Highway General Motors Plant dates back to 1935, and a variety of Chevrolets were made at the factory until the last two produced there, the Chevy Astro and GMC Safari, were discontinued in 2005.

Mohler’s successor, John “Johnny O” Olszewski Jr., who will be sworn in on Dec. 3, praised the county executive’s actions and said his administration would continue to work with the UAW and GM “to help people find stability in the midst of this uncertainty.”

He also called back to his Dundalk roots in condemning the layoffs.

“Growing up in eastern Baltimore County, I saw firsthand how plant closings hurt workers, their families, and our neighborhoods,” he said. “Wall Street analysts may call this a good move by GM, but it’s devastating news for working men and women who were looking forward to the holiday season.”

This story has been updated.

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Brandon Weigel

Brandon Weigel is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. A graduate of the University of Maryland, he has been published in The Washington Post, The Sun, Baltimore Magazine, Urbanite, The Baltimore...