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Chrysler and GM Idle, Close Truck Plants

Even after emerging from bankruptcy as a new entity, Chrysler is still struggling to effectively manage its production facilities, while GM announces more plant closings.

Chrysler announced just last week that it would open its St. Louis North Assembly Plant, which makes Dodge Ram trucks, on June 29. But as inventory backs up -- it had 68,700 trucks, a 115-day supply, on June 1 -- the automaker says it will idle the plant on July 10, keeping it closed "contingent upon volumes."

Chrysler shut down all of its plants when it went into bankruptcy, but briefly reopened seven of those plants before a normal summer idling period, during which the factories are retooled for the next model year. The St. Louis plant, located in Fenton, Missouri, will be idled before the other plants.

Chrysler previously said it would close the plant, along with five other plants in Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin, by 2010. While the St. Louis facility is closed, Chrysler will work with the UAW "to address the manpower implications in a socially responsible manner." It is offering the plant's 1200 workers incentives to leave and opportunities to transfer to other plants. Chrysler also makes Ram trucks in Saltillo, Mexico and Warren, Michigan.

Meanwhile, GM announced it will shut down its assembly and stamping plants in Shreveport, Louisiana by June 2012.

The Shreveport facilities produce the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Hummer H3, and HUMMER H3T, and employ more than 1400 hourly workers. It was expected that the plants would remain open, due to a potential sale of the Hummer brand to a Chinese company. Although GM will continue to produce the HUMMER H3 and H3T on a contractual basis, the plants will be closed when the life cycles of the Colorado and Canyon end.

"When the products end, the plants will close," said GM spokesman Chris Lee. "It's a very difficult decision impacting employees as we accelerate plans to create a leaner and stronger GM."