Clouds Hover, Shreveport’s GM Plant Closing: What Will We Do?
The end of next month will mark the end of an era in Shreveport when thousands of auto workers bought houses, drove new cars and daily contributed to the economy of Shreveport.
Auto workers at GM's former 'Shining Star' - many with roots in the Shreveport-Bossier area - bought gas, groceries and food from neighborhood convenience stores, grocery stores and fast-foot restaurants.
What will happen to the local economy when General Motors shutters the buildings and shuts down the facility on August 30th? I asked people at and near the plant today how they feel about one of the area's largest employers closing its doors.
One woman, who has worked at the Shreveport plant 29 years, says they've known this was coming for two years when GM made the announcement it would close the final assembly truck plant.
This is home for me, so I'm grateful for the 29 years that I've gotten here and it has been a great place and its just been wonderful... all good things come to an end.
She says she signed on for the "mutual satisfactory retirement" in which she can retire at age 50 with at least 10 years of service. The more years you've worked towards retirement, the more your monthly pension will be. "It's really a great opportunity if you're 50 years old with 10 years of service...that's the way I'm going."
The veteran auto worker says she's never been so happy to turn 50 next month.
Employees who have 30 years are really getting sweet deals: a $30,000 incentive and with the new contract, throw another $10,000 in the pot.."so they can get $40,000 for 30 years to go.."
Employees who don't have enough time worked to ink a retirement deal between UAW Local 2166 and GM, are taking buyouts or transferring to other plants.
Some workers are going to GM facilities in Arlington, Texas, Bowling Green, KY, and Wentzville, Mo.
Workers aren't going to give up on GM if they can get a transfer. The pensions and retiree insurance and other benefits are too attractive.
Others who don't qualify for special benefits will get financial help from the state to be re-trained for other jobs.
Mark Jones, who owns the J-Mart Chevron on Bert Kouns down the street from General Motors Boulevard, is optimistic. "This is definitely not good news. But, we're praying and hoping that there's something that will come in and replace the General Motors plant. I've been hearing some good rumors, and hopefully, you know that old saying one door closes and another one opens will be true..."
Jones say he's hoping for a new tenant for the big facility and maybe a tenant that will also employ a lot of people. "I mean I'm really hopeful..I hear all kinds of good things, we'll just have to wait and see, but it's definitely been a tough six months since I've finally come to the realization that it was closing."