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Town of Tonawanda GM plant recalls 37 from layoff <br> Will support exports of parts to China

General Motors' Town of Tonawanda engine plant is recalling 37 workers from layoff to support exports of parts to China.

The hourly employees, represented by the United Auto Workers, will return Jan. 3, said Mary Ann Brown, a plant spokeswoman.

The callbacks will bring the plant's number of active hourly workers to 705, while 142 will remain on layoff.

The engine plant is gearing up for increased business with GM's joint venture partner in China, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp., or SAIC. The plant has already shipped about 25,000 engine heads to China this year, GM said.

SAIC was impressed with the quality of the engine heads shipped from Tonawanda this year and has placed another large order for Ecotec engine blocks, heads and cranks, GM said.

The parts shipments will start next year and are scheduled to go through 2013, a year and a half after the 2.2 liter/2.4 liter Ecotec line is scheduled to end production to make way for a new V8 engine that was announced in April, the automaker said.

The order will create more job security for about 100 current employees, in addition to bringing back the 37 workers, said Steve Finch, the Tonawanda plant manager.

"The high volume of parts SAIC has requested per week will mean we have to add another shift to our machine floors and run them around the clock five days per week," Finch said in a statement.

"We are professional engine builders," Robert Coleman, UAW Local 774 shop chairman, said in a statement. "Tonawanda Engine has now been placed on the map as a global supplier. Being able to call back about 37 employees from layoff and enhancing job security at the plant is very exciting news for us."

GM as of early November had sold 2 million vehicles in China this year, the first global automaker to hit achieve that milestone in China in a single year.

e-mail: mglynn@buffnews.com

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