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Legislators join effort to halt GM job cuts

January 31, 1999|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A group of Eastern Panhandle legislators are set to meet this morning to talk about job losses at the General Motors plant in Martinsburg, according to West Virginia Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley.

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Unger said Sunday night he would meet with the eight-member Eastern Panhandle Caucus at 8:30 a.m. Monday in Charleston to discuss what he called "GM's plans to transfer 90-188 jobs, if not more" from the GM Service Parts Operations plant in Martinsburg.

"GM has been a wonderful corporation for our community's economy," said Unger. "We want to try and do everything we can to keep those quality jobs here."

The United Auto Workers Local 1590 has told its members that GM is planning to move part of its Martinsburg operation to the Baltimore area.

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A GM spokesperson called the UAW report "pure speculation," but GM has confirmed it will shift some of its Martinsburg operations to new facilities in North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and California.

While GM has not said how many jobs will be eliminated at the Martinsburg plant, UAW Local 1590 President Jim Rogers sent Unger a letter last week stating 90 to 128 jobs would be transferred from Martinsburg to Columbus, Oh. as well as another 40 to 60 jobs from Martinsburg to a new plant in Charlotte, N.C.

The 2.2 million square-foot Martinsburg plant employs about 870 workers to process and distribute auto parts to manufacturers and dealers in the U.S. and abroad.

Unger said the Eastern Panhandle Caucus is also trying to set up a Feb. 18, 1999, meeting with representatives from GM and the UAW as well as West Virginia Gov. Cecil H. Underwood and the West Virginia Development Office.

"We want to see if there are any incentives we can possibly offer," Unger said. "I'm not really sure what all is in our arsenal to make it more attractive for them."

The Eastern Panhandle Caucus was formed earlier this year to discuss legislative concerns and is made up of the two state senators and six state delegates that represent Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties.

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