Barra: No plans for Tesla to buy plant

GM CEO says car­maker against union work­force

USA TODAY Weekend Extra - - MONEY - Nathan Bomey and Jamie L. LaReau “Tesla’s not in­ter­ested in our work­force rep­re­sented by the UAW, so re­ally it’s a moot point.” Mary Barra

Gen­eral Mo­tors CEO Mary Barra dis­missed the pos­si­bil­ity that Elon Musk’s Tesla could ac­quire one of GM’s soon-to-be-idled U.S. fac­to­ries.

Barra on Fri­day ac­knowl­edged talk about the prospect of Tesla ac­quir­ing GM’s plant in Detroit or its plant in Lord­stown, Ohio, both of which are set to close soon un­less they are as­signed new ve­hi­cles to man­u­fac­ture.

“There have been con­ver­sa­tions in the past,” Barra said at a pre­sen­ta­tion for in­vestors and an­a­lysts. “But Tesla’s not in­ter­ested in our work­force rep­re­sented by the UAW, so re­ally it’s a moot point.”

The United Auto Work­ers is a union that rep­re­sents GM’s hourly work­ers in the U.S.

Tesla CEO Musk re­cently ex­pressed in­ter­est in his com­pany po­ten­tially pur­chas­ing one of the GM fac­to­ries. That’s es­sen­tially what Tesla did with its fac­tory in Fre­mont, Cal­i­for­nia, which was for­merly a joint ven­ture be­tween GM and Toy­ota.

But the Fre­mont fac­tory is not union­ized, de­spite the UAW’s at­tempts to do so. And Musk has re­peat­edly crit­i­cized the union, say­ing it helped lead to GM’s down­fall and ar­gu­ing that his work­ers are safe and well-paid.

A Tesla spokesman was not im­me­di­ately avail­able for com­ment.

Barra’s com­ment came as GM re­ported that its de­ci­sion to likely close the plants in Ohio and Michi­gan will con­trib­ute to its in­creased prof­itabil­ity. Those moves came af­ter GM de­cided to dis­con­tinue sev­eral ve­hi­cles, in­clud­ing the Chevro­let Cruze, Chevy Im­pala and Chevy Volt.

The com­pany sur­prised Wall Street on Fri­day by up­ping its es­ti­mated 2019 prof­its, de­spite con­cerns about the global econ­omy and the Chi­nese ve­hi­cle mar­ket. GM shares rose 8.9 per­cent to $37.80 early Fri­day af­ter­noon be­fore clos­ing at $37.18.

The fac­tory cuts, as well as thou­sands of buy­outs and lay­offs of whitecol­lar work­ers, will add up to $2.5 bil­lion to GM’s an­nual cost sav­ings in 2019.

In all, about 6,500 hourly jobs are in dan­ger, though Barra said that GM has a 2,700 open­ings in plants in Flint, Michi­gan; Spring Hill, Ten­nessee; and Ar­ling­ton, Texas, where af­fected work­ers could trans­fer. She said about 1,500 hourly work­ers have ex­pressed in­ter­est in those open­ings and 700 have been placed in jobs and are “en route.”

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