General Motors Corp. today announced it is selling its Frigidaire appliance division of White Consolidated Industries of Cleveland and converting its Dayton plants for automotive assembly.
"The proposed sale assures the continuation of the Frigidaire name, product line and distribution system, but it does not include the two Frigidaire manufacturing facilities," GM president Elliott N. Estes said. The Chamber of Commerce predicted the GM move would increase unemployment in the city from 3.9 percent to 5 percent.
"These two facilities -- totaling some four million square feet -- will be converted to automotive operations for the assembly of light trucks and diesel engines," Estes said.
Neither the purchase price nor tentative terms of the transaction were disclosed. This is the first time GM has had a vehicle assembly plant in Dayton.
White Consolidated Industries Inc. is the nation's third largest home appliance manufacturer. Its line presently include White-Westinghouse, Gibson and Kelvinator.
"We expect the transaction to be completed within 90 days," said Henry Eaton, a WCI spokesman. "White will also be buying Frigidaire patents, engineering, some equipment and tooling."
Eaton said that Frigidaire employes engaged in sales, distribution, engineering and administration would be absorbed by WCI in its eastern seaboard plants, but that hourly employes probably would not be relocated.
He said WCI, whose sales totaled $875 million in major home appliances during 1977, will not build any new plants to produce the Frigidaire line, and that all appliances will be made at existing operations.
Estes said GM will begin the conversion of their two facilities in the Dayton suburb of Moraine as soon as the production buildout of appliances is completed. He said layoffs would begin next month and the plant should shut down by mid-April.
Frigidaire currently employs approximately 8,000 people -- 6,200 hourly and 1,800 salaried."
"Our objective is to help every employe find work," Estes said. "Those employes who are not employed by WCI will be considered for openings with GM's other Dayton divisions or with new automotive operations when they begin production."
General Motors does not expect to begin producing its new small-sized truck until the first half of 1981. Estes said the truck would be akin to GM's present Luv truck model, but its parts would be primarily manufactured in the United States. He would not say what the diesel engines manufactured in Dayton would be used for.
The GM president said that at full production, the two plants will employ about 4,500 workers.
Union officials were not immediately available following the late afternoon announcement, but many have voiced concern over possible layoffs as rumors about the sale began circulating two weeks ago. The Dayton area has lost more than 35,000 blue collar jobs since 1969.