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GM to cut jobs at Grand River Assembly plant

Chevrolet announces Monday, October 26, 2015 it will soon begin shipping the 2016 Chevrolet...
Chevrolet announces Monday, October 26, 2015 it will soon begin shipping the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro to dealers from General Motors Lansing Grand River Assembly in Lansing, Michigan. The 2016 Camaro is shown Thursday, October 22, 2015 on the assembly line at the Lansing Grand River Assembly facility. (Photo by Jeffrey Sauger for Chevrolet) (WILX)
Published: Nov. 9, 2016 at 10:29 AM EST
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General Motors will lay off nearly 800 workers when it cut an entire shift from production at it's Grand River Assembly plant early next year.

The automaker is eliminating the plant's 3rd shift which was only added seven months ago.

A GM spokesman told WILX News 10 that the cuts are in response to lacking car sales, with customers buying more trucks and SUVs. The Chevrolet Camaro and Cadillac ATS and CTS are made at the Lansing plant. Sales for all of those cars have dropped since the beginning of the year.

The cuts are expected to impact 810 hourly and 29 salaried jobs and take effect in January.

Juvon Street currently works the 3rd shift and while he hasn't been given notice, he knows that's what could be coming.

"I have to try to take the good out of the bad, that's all I can do," Street said."It's all business. It''s not like we didn't know this was going to come or something like that, at the end of the day they still have to make money too."

Even if he is laid off Street is hoping it won't be permanent.

"It's a great opportunity to work here, to get hired in," he said. "I just look forward to that and whatever I have to go through to get to that position I just have to do."

There's a chance the jobs could come back. General Motors has also announced it's investing $211 million investment in the plant. New tooling and equipment will be built at the plant and the body shop will be expanded by 32,000 square feet That means a "new product" will be built at the plant, but the company is not yet announcing that product. It could be a new car or an upgrade to a car already being built at the plant.

Knowing that could be coming, UAW Local 652 President Mike Green said now may be the best possible time for layoffs.

"The plant's almost 20 years old, it needs an update. When sales are a little bit slow now's the time to do it so it makes us viable for future products," Green said. "Get your plant ready and put it in top shape so when it gets ready to get going again we're ready."

Green says layoffs are more common this time of year when car sales typically slow down in winter, but pick back up in the spring.

"The car industry's been that way for 38 years that I've been here," Green said.

GM is required to give employees 60 days notice before a mass layoff.

Green says he's hoping the number of layoffs will be lower than what GM is projecting. He says the union is working with management to try to save some of those positions.

"'I'm confident it will be as low impact as possible," Green said.

"We're glad for the investment, we're not happy with the reduction. Nobody ever is, nodoby ever wants to lose a job," Green said. "The best thing we can do is get our plant ready to ramp back up in the spring."

GM is also laying off more than 1,200 workers at its plant in Lordstown, Ohio where the Chevrolet Cruze is built.