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GM Arlington plant ramps up amid cuts

General Motors will reinstate overtime shifts at its Arlington assembly after Thanksgiving as the company boosts production of some vehicles and cuts others.

Plant spokeswoman Wendi Sabo said the two shifts at the plant would resume 44 1/2 hour weeks from Dec. 1 through Dec. 23. before shutting down over the Christmas and New Year holiday period.

After several one-week and longer shutdowns this year, GM had been running the Arlington plant on overtime since Nov. 3 until Tuesday, when the overtime was canceled. Then, at a meeting in Detroit on Thursday, Sabo said, a decision was made to resume overtime production at the plant following Thanksgiving.

The Arlington plant employs about 2,500 people and produces large sport utility vehicles. The overtime is surprising since GM and dealers have heavy stocks of unsold vehicles, ranging from a 117-day supply of Chevy Suburbans to a 186-day supply of GMC Yukons.

But the plant is building significant numbers of SUVs for export and GM is permanently closing the Janesville, Wis. plant, which also builds SUVs, at the end of the year.

GM said Friday it will extend its holiday shutdown or make other production cuts at five factories as it deals with a continued U.S. auto sales slump and fights to stay solvent.

The company also announced changes at four factories, in addition to Arlington, that could increase production of some models, all based on a volatile U.S. auto market that has slumped to a 25-year low.

The changes won’t be the last as cash-starved GM tries to conserve as much money as possible while awaiting Congressional action on a bailout loan package for Detroit’s three automakers.

“Market demand is usually the prevailing criteria,” said spokesman Chris Lee. “We’re looking at this much more frequently than I’ve ever seen us as far as making minor adjustments. And I suspect that will be the norm going forward.”