Janesville GM Plant Closes - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Janesville GM Plant Closes

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JANESVILLE (WKOW) -- It's the end of the line for GM's Janesville Assembly Plant.

The last SUV rolled off the line Tuesday morning just after seven o'clock. However, because of union regulations, workers had to put in at least four hours. Most wound up watching the last vehicles come down the line.

"Today it was mixed. some people were crying. some people you know, seeing people you haven't seen in a long time and you made a lot of friendships here that will last a long time," explained Sandy Kerl, who has worked at the plant for 14 years.

"We watched the vehicle go off the line today and that was a little more for real. It kind of feels like you're going on a long vacation, but I know that's not the case," said Ami Watson, who also worked at the plant for 14 years.

As workers left the plant one last time, many tried to stay optimistic, but admitted reality has not yet set in.

"I don't think it's going to hit everybody until after Christmas, and people get to go back to work after the new year, and we don't get to go back. I think it's going to hit hard home then," speculated Kerl.

With the end of production, 12 hundred GM workers are now out of a job. Leer and LSI, two companies that supplied the GM plant, also closed their Janesville plants Tuesday. One expert from Univeristy of Wisconsin estimated nine thousand people could be out of work in Rock County because of the ripple effect.

Union and government officials, however, are not ready to give up hope quite yet.

"We've seen some tough times. We've seen some longterm layoffs. We've seen some recessions. But we've never faced a plant idling. Like I said, it's not a plant closing. It's a plant idling," clarified Andy Richardson, president of UAW Local 95.

Officials presented offers to GM earlier this year for the company to bring a new line of vehicles to the Janesville plant. Officials find hope in the fact that offer has not been rejected. However, given the current financial situation facing the auto industry, GM is not in a position to make a major business decision like that.

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