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Gas prices force GM to cut Janesville jobs

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New Richmond, 54017

New Richmond Wisconsin 127 South Knowles Avenue 54017

The high gas prices really hit home in Wisconsin Monday, as General Motors said it would eliminate one of two shifts at its SUV plant in Janesville.

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A total of 750 employees will lose their jobs in July - both factory workers and an undetermined number of managers.

Janesville had already cut 140 jobs this month due to a drop in production.

GM's Chris Lee said a softening market for its pick-up trucks and SUVs caused the company to "align our production with market realities."

One reality is that Janesville makes a Chevy Tahoe which costs $97 for a gasoline fill-up. That's $40 more than in late 2005, when the plant was spared from a much larger round of GM job cuts nationally.

This time, four plants are being hit, all making large vehicles that just sit in dealer lots.

For the last two months, there have been times only one of the two shifts was working at the Janesville plant.

Gov. Jim Doyle said he would send a Rapid Response team to Janesville to help workers file unemployment claims and get them into job training and placement services.

Doyle also said the state would seek of up two years of additional jobless benefits for those who need them, plus more education and re-training.

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