Mishawaka's H2 plant will lay off nearly a third of its employees, about 160 people, indefinitely. The cutbacks are planned for December 22nd when the plant shuts down for holiday break. Some of those displaced workers could transfer to the H1 plant.
AM General officials said Monday that those laid off will be given preferred hiring status in the H1 plant, but just how many jobs will be available at H1 is anybody's guess. H2 Employees say they have been told about 40, as a rough estimate.
The company says they won't know until year-end retirement numbers come in.
Every AM General employee we approached was reluctant to go on camera, because the hope is that jobs lost at H2 will be found at H1.
Union representatives at the UAW Local 5 have not yet commented about Monday's announcement, but at least one local H2 dealership say sales are not suffering, even with the company's new addition: the H3.
“It's in an entirely different price bracket, far as price and size,” says Andrew Ballard, Hummer Production Management of Tyler Automotive. “The H3 starts in the high 20,000's and the H2 starting in the mid-50,000's.”
Local dealers say there are a lot of consumers who purchase the H2 because they are supporting the local economy, while the H3 is produced in Shreveport, Louisiana.
“Not a day goes by when someone doesn't come in here and say ‘I know somebody that makes that part of the truck’ or ‘I do this to make that vehicle.’ It's an extremely well made vehicle,” says Ballard. “That's a part of the community.”
Ballard believes the H2 is in for some changes. "Perhaps some new design changes could make this lay off short term," he says.
Dealers agree, the best way to ensure that H2's will continue to be made in Michiana is for local businesses and consumers to keep buying the product.