Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Flint Prepares for Future without GM

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Flint Prepares for Future without GM

Article excerpt

FLINT, Mich. (AP) _ At 41, Milton Carroll is looking into a new career as a drug counselor. His resume: 17 years as a riveter and spot welder at a General Motors Corp. truck plant in grave danger of folding.

Things only seem to get worse in this crumbling GM bulwark, and Carroll can't take the suspense anymore. "I want to have something so that if General Motors wants to fold, so be it," he said.

Flint, a city of 140,000, was shaken by a slew of GM closures in the 1980s that practically halved the automakers' workforce, from 80,000 in 1980 to about 43,000.

Fear is rife, now that the remaining jobs won't last long.

When GM announced in February it was making drastic cuts in operations, the first round of closings included putting Flint on notice it would lose 4,000 jobs at a V-8 engine plant, which will close in 1997.

Another round of closing announcements Dec. 3 brought mixed news.

GM said a truck plant that employs about 4,450 people has no product assigned past the 1995 model year, when its current generation of vans expires. Workers are waiting to learn if that means the plant and their livelihoods will be expiring.

"It would be a lot easier if they just said they would close," said Mike Jabero, whose deli gets virtually all its business from GM engine and truck plants across the street. "Then we could get on with our lives."

Carroll isn't dawdling. He has decided to get a college education and become a counselor for recovering drug addicts like himself.

GM spared the Inland Fisher Guide plant just outside the city, despite fears it would be jettisoned. In addition, GM also said it would send 750 engineering jobs to Flint from the Detroit area and move some production to Flint's Buick City assembly plant from Wentzville, Mo.

"We always put on this continual face of optimism because if you lived here all your life you always thought that GM would solve some of their problems," said Kim Yecke, 40, a lifelong Flint resident and executive director of a food bank in Genesee County. …

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