DETROIT -- General Motors Corp., struggling to reverse record losses in its North American auto business, is planning to cut at least 10,000 white-collar jobs and close at least two plants, it was reported Wednesday.
GM Chairman Robert Stempel was scheduled to unveil GM's plans in a 12:30 p.m. EST satellite broadcast to employees and again at a 2 p.m. news conference.
Most industry analysts believe Stempel is preparing to take on the United Auto Workers union by first laying off white-collar workers, then asking for concessions from blue-collar workers.
'You can't ask for a sacrifice unless you sacrifice first,' said auto industry analyst Mary Ann Keller of Furman Selz Inc. in New York.
The No. 1 automaker is losing $15 million a day on its U.S. and Canadian automotive operations and its credit rating on Wall Street is in jeopardy, analysts say.
The Detroit Free Press, quoting people familiar with GM's plans, said the company will cut at least 10,000 and as many as 15,000 white-collar jobs next year and close assembly plants in Moraine, Ohio, and Arlington, Texas.
On Tuesday, GM told employees at a plant in Van Nuys, Calif., that the assembly line will stop next summer and autoworkers at Plant No. 2 in Oshawa, Ontario, learned GM has no plans to build cars there after 1994.
The Van Nuys plant, which builds Cheverolet Camaros and Pontiac Firebirds, currently has 2,600 employees after some 900 were laid off earlier. The Oshawa plant, near Toronto, employees 3,800 workers building Chevrolet Luminas and Buick Regals.
For weeks, there have been rumors that GM might idle as many as 30, 000 white-collar workers and close five to seven of its 33 assembly plants to stem its losses.
Analysts project GM will lose more than $2.5 billion this year, despite sizeable profits form its non-auto subsidiaries and overseas car business. GM's North American automotive business will lose about $7 billion.
GM, which has 94,000 salaried workers in the United States, likely will make the new cuts through layoffs. They will be in addition to the 15,000 salaried jobs Stempel said last February that GM would eliminate by the end of 1993 through attrition and early retirments.
Analyst Jean Claude Gruet of UBS Securities in New York also saw the white-collar layoffs as a prelude to the company seeking concessions from the union.
'The UAW may be willing to meet GM halfway,' he said. 'But they are not going to give an inch unless GM greatly reduces its white-collar labor force.'
Since 1985, Gruet noted, GM has reduced its blue-collar work force by 30 percent and its salaried employees by 15 percent.
'That won't do,' he said.
In addition to white-collar layoffs, there is strong speculation among analysts that Stempel and other senior GM executives will take cuts in their base salaries by as much as 10 percent.