General Motors Corp.'s Tonawanda Engine Plant will shut down a second engine line next Monday until Jan. 2 as slumping auto sales continue to have a negative effect on area auto plants.
Donald L. Rust, plant manager, said the 3.1-liter, six-cylinder engine line will be shut down. He declined to give the number of employees who would be furloughed, but union sources thought it would be close to 200.
Manufacture of 4.3-liter, six-cylinder engines ended for the year today, largely in response to a lack of demand for the small trucks in which many of the engines are used.
The latest layoff announcement brings the total number of area GM and Ford workers who will be furloughed next week to close to 2,000, with more announcements of layoffs likely later this week.
The total number of temporary layoffs for next week announced as of today are:
Saginaw Forge -- 227.
Saginaw Axle -- 730.
Ford Woodlawn Stamping Plant -- 200 (in addition, 173 workers are on indefinite layoff).
Harrison Division -- An announcement on layoffs is expected late in the week. This week 1,000 employees are furloughed by Lockport and Buffalo plants.
In addition to the Harrison workers, this week's layoffs include: 500 at the Tonawanda engine plant, 143 at the Saginaw-Tonawanda forge plant, 285 at the Saginaw-Buffalo axle plant, and 400 at the Ford stamping plant in Hamburg.
Under the recent contracts negotiated by the United Auto Workers, idled workers will be assured of 95 percent of their normal base pay under a combination of unemployment insurance and continued company wages.
Nationally, nearly 40,000 autoworkers, most of them at GM plants, will have this week off.
GM, Ford and Chrysler Corp. said they plan to shut down all or parts of a dozen assembly plants for this week, keeping 39,180 workers at home. The closures stem from slow sales at dealerships.
Next week, the last week before the industry's traditional shutdown for the Christmas and New Year's holidays, is expected to be worse.
GM said it will lay off 50,470 workers when it shuts down 18 assembly factories in 14 states next week.
Those employees will not return to work until at least Jan. 2. GM operates 35 car and truck assembly plants in North America.
Ford, which shuts down half of two assembly plants in Ohio this week, and Chrysler, which closes its Toledo, Ohio, Jeep plant this week, have yet to announce their production plans for the week before Christmas.
The number of autoworkers on layoff actually will be larger than the total from assembly plants. Whenever an assembly plant is shut down, even for a week, it frequently results in layoffs at supplier and component plants. Tracking those numbers is extremely difficult.
With more than a dozen assembly plants closing down this week and next, it's likely that thousands more employees at the component factories will be laid off.