CLEVELAND, Ohio — General Motors plans to close a Michigan plant that makes welding tools and bring as many as 200 new jobs to Parma by July.
“It’s part of a consolidation” of facilities, GM spokesman Tom Wikckham said. He added that the plant’s 351 workers will move to the company’s Parma Metal Center, an adjacent plant in Flint, Mich., or GM’s technology center in Warren, Mich. “It’s an opportunity for the people to move with their work.”
Neither Wickham nor Parma spokesman Tom Mock knew how many of the workers would be coming to Parma or what products they’ll be bringing with them. Mock said Parma has the space for new operations, and it’s looking forward to playing a new role within GM.
But the United Auto Workers 1005 at Parma, in a newsletter to its members, said the plant off of I-480 would receive about 70 percent of the tooling from Grand Blanc and nearly two-thirds of the workers from that plant.
“It is important to understand that Parma will receive more work than” the transferred workers will be able to perform, the union said in its newsletter Thursday. The union added that the new work being transferred will create opportunities for Parma skilled trades workers. The plant has had more skilled tradesmen than it has needed in recent years.
Until about five years ago, Parma was almost entirely a stamping plant, beating out metal parts for GM plants in Lordstown, Michigan and other regions. Then, in 2008, the automaker added several robotic welding lines to the plant, giving it the ability to stamp out parts and weld them together into more complex components.
At the time, plant manager Al McLaughlin said getting new work saved the plant from closure as GM had too many metal shops and not enough work for all of them.
Parma now sends parts to almost all of GM’s North American plants. Parts range from floor pans for pickups to safety cages for mid-sized cars. The largest portion of the plant’s work goes to Lordstown where it ends up inside Chevrolet Cruze models.
Adding tool production will be a new product line for the plant. Grand Blanc made the welding guns and welding rigs used in Parma and in Lordstown.
Wickham and Mock said the Grand Blanc plant will end production by July 1. The automaker is still working out how many jobs will go to the each of the three facilities getting new work.