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Underwood mum on GM jobs meeting

February 19, 1999|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - West Virginia Gov. Cecil H. Underwood is keeping a tight lid on Thursday's discussions with General Motors on the future of the automaker's Martinsburg plant.

Underwood met for about 45 minutes in his office Thursday morning with local and national GM representatives as well as members of the Eastern Panhandle legislative caucus, United Auto Workers Local 1590, the West Virginia Development Office and other members of the Martinsburg community, said West Virginia Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley.

The participants were prevented from commenting on the meeting as part of an agreement with Underwood, said Unger.

After the meeting, Underwood's office released the following statement: "All parties are pleased with the discussions and believe they will serve as a foundation for future talks."

Dan Page, assistant for communication in the governor's office, said he couldn't add anything to Underwood's statement.

Underwood, who is scheduled to tour the Martinsburg B&0 Roundhouse facility Friday afternoon, could not be reached for comment.

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"All I can say is it was a very productive meeting and that the governor is taking a lead role to address the situation," said Unger.

GM officials could not be reached for comment.

Underwood called Thursday's meeting amid rising concerns from state and local officials who are afraid already announced plans to transfer jobs from Martinsburg to other GM facilities could lead to major job cuts at the plant.

Already announced plans by GM could move about 188 of the 870 jobs at the Martinsburg plant to other facilities, according to UAW officials.

GM has called reports of other plans to move operations from Martinsburg to Baltimore "pure speculation."

State and local officials are concerned major job cuts would cost the area hundreds of high-paying jobs and could have a negative ripple effect throughout the Eastern Panhandle economy.

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