OKLAHOMA CITY – Some workers brought cameras to General Motors Corp.'s (GM) Oklahoma plant to take photographs of their work stations and co-workers before the last vehicle rolled off the line Monday, photos that will become treasured keepsakes in scrapbooks.
Others just brought their sadness.
"It's a rough day," said GM spokeswoman Nancy Sarpolis in Detroit. "It's hard to see your co-workers go."
After 27 years, the last vehicle produced at the plant, a white Chevrolet Trailblazer EXT, rolled out Monday evening as GM shut down production in the first of 12 facilities the company plans to close by 2008 as it struggles to match production with market demand.
Detroit-based GM plans to cut 30,000 jobs. The Oklahoma City plant employs 2,400 — 2,200 hourly and 200 salaried — but economists said as many as 7,500 jobs could be affected including those at GM suppliers and secondary jobs, like hotel and restaurant workers.
"It's obviously a sad day for the state of Oklahoma," said Mike Seney, senior vice president of The State Chamber, a statewide business and industry group.
Gov. Brad Henry said the state will help displaced employees and their families find new jobs through job assistance, retraining and educational opportunities.
Some plant workers are mulling retirement and others will enroll in GM's Jobs Bank, which allows workers to collect full pay and benefits as they attend classes or volunteer at community agencies, Sarpolis said. Some workers will continue be paid through September 2007, when GM's UAW contract expires.