Locals hope Spring Hill kept open

Friday, May 29, 2009

Lewisburg and Marshall County on Tuesday asked President Barack Obama, Congress and their Automotive Transition Team to ensure the survival of General Motors Corp. and its factory in Spring Hill.

The requests come on the heels of United Auto Workers Local 1853 President Mike O'Rourke statement last week that, in his opinion, the future of the jobs at the Chevrolet Traverse assembly plant is a "coin flip," according to the Associated Press.

GM is proposing to phase out 16 plants in North American by 2011, and this week, the it's seemed as though a bankruptcy filing by the Detroit giant seemed inevitable since bondholders forced GM to withdraw on Wednesday a plan to swap bond debt for company stock.

The City Council here suspended its rules to permit the unanimous vote for a proclamation from Mayor Bob Phillips and City Treasurer Connie Edde urging federal officials "to do everything in their power to ensure the survival of the plant."

Similar steps were taken at the County Commission meeting that Tuesday night when all of the commissioners noted that the opening of the Saturn plant in the 1980s increased Marshall County's population and improved economic opportunities.

The county's resolution says commissioners funded expansion and construction of new schools and improved other infrastructure.

Losing 3,000 jobs at the Spring Hill plant "would devastate a large number of other companies whose livelihoods depend on the GM plant," the county resolution states.

The city proclamation says, "Many of Lewisburg's citizens have been adversely affected this decade by the outsourcing of traditional manufacturing jobs and sudden downturn of the automobile industry."

As a result, the county's unemployment rate reached 19.1 percent last month, or nearly two out of every five people.

"Many of GM's team members and retirees live in Lewisburg, the city document states.

"Loss of the GM Spring Hill Manufacturing plant would have an economically devastating impact on many families and communities across Middle Tennessee, the city document said.

GM has until Monday to complete a government-ordered restructuring that includes debt reduction, labor cost cuts and plant closures. But a Chapter 11 reorganization is likely after the company said its offer to exchange $27 billion in unsecured debt for 10 percent of the company's stock had failed. GM has received $19.4 billion in federal loans.