NewsOK: Employees are unsure of their future after planned closure

Larry Jackson and the 2,600 General Motors employees in Oklahoma City may be looking at a somber holiday season and an unclear future after the company announced Monday its plant will cease production in early 2006.

Jackson said he likes to “splurge” on gifts for his family at Christmas. Now he and his wife, also a GM employee, effectively have been laid off.

“Gifts are going to be very slim, very scarce, this year,” he said.

Isn’t that nice of GM, right before the holidays.

Flickinger nearly was moved to tears by the thought of having to leave Oklahoma, a place he’s not from but has come to love. He is in management and said he will likely be relocated within the company. But he worries about his family – a wife and a son who is a senior in high school.

“I’m pretty sure I’ll land on my feet, it’s just hard to uproot from Oklahoma,” he said. “My son is set on going to college this fall and that might change a little bit.”

“I’m 48 years old. I’ve got 28½ years” with GM, he said. “I’m too close to retirement and too young to retire.”

Yeah, 28½ years and GM doesn’t care. But you can bet that the CEO who’s making $11 million a year won’t have to uproot his family.

Somber workers floated in and out of area convenience stores before and after their shifts at GM. Some talked with friends. Some bought beer and lottery tickets.

Minutes after the announcement came over the radio, convenience store employee Jennifer Southerland said a GM worker came in to the Paris Plaza Route 66, off Interstate 240 and Sooner Road.

“Well, he did buy a 6-pack (of beer) this morning,” she said. “That about says it all about how his day was going.”

Marquiata Mallory, who works at Flash Mart south of I-240 on Sooner, said several GM employees came through and bought lottery tickets during the day.

“They hope they’re going to hit the jackpot on one of ’em,” Mallory said. “All they’ve got is the hope of the lottery tickets – that’s wrong. That’s terrible.”

NewsOK: City plant has reaped tax breaks to update and refurbish facilities

Here’s what the 2000 legislation did:

* Gave General Motors a sales tax exemption on construction materials bought to expand the Oklahoma City plant.

* It allowed General Motors to have a five-year property tax exemption even if the company didn’t create new jobs. The exemption generally goes to companies creating new jobs.

* It allowed General Motors to use an investment income tax credit for up to 15 years instead of just 5 years.

For example, if GM had a $10 million tax credit and used only $1 million of it, it could retain the remaining credits and continue using them for up to 15 years.

Then, a 2003 tornado heavily damaged the plant.

The legislation gave General Motors a 5-year property tax exemption on property installed to replace tornado-damaged property.

This sure reminds me of what happened with the Wrangler plant in Seminole, when the city and state bent over backwards to keep the plant through handing over pork to the crooks at the VF Corporation (parent company of Wrangler) and Wrangler shut down the plant anyways (while making massive profits)