WSFA 12 News Update: Local Leaders Respond to Hyundai Cuts

Montgomery, AL (WSFA) - There is new information about how the recession is taking a toll on Montgomery's Hyundai plant.  WSFA 12 News has learned Hyundai is now cutting production at its plants in South Korea. Reuters reports Hyundai is reducing its output by 25 to 30 percent to offset a steep drop in consumer demand. The cutbacks are expected to last through March.

Here in Montgomery, there is concern, but also optimism about Hyundai's future. The plant employs more than 3,000 people. It is now on what is called a "flexible schedule" through the end of the month.

On Friday, at a meeting scheduled before the work slowdowns, elected officials and members of the Chamber of Commerce got the word directly from the company. Hyundai employees as well as workers at the tier one suppliers may worry about the future, but not city officials.

Charles Jinright, the acting mayor of Montgomery, says "If we all turn our tv's off for about two months and we get rid of our newspapers for about two months, I think we would all be better off. I hate to tell you that Eileen but I think that we are all looking at the bad news and not looking at what's happening to us personally."

After talking with Hyundai's top management at one of their regularly scheduled meetings. The Chairman of the Montgomery County Commission compared the economy to a bathtub. He says it's now at the bottom, but it won't be there long. Strange tells WSFA 12 News, "You are coming down the slippery slope. You're in the bottom. Then you have to go up and we feel like. That we are probably close to within a couple of three months moving up the other end of the bathtub."

In spite of a three day work week and a backlog of Sante Fe suv's that haven't sold, Hyundai Motor Manufacturing of Alabama has been in the spotlight when the other manufacturers were asking for federal help. Ellen McNair with the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce tells WSFA 12 News, "If you look at the stories that were done, nationally when they talked about the bailout and the big three, HMMA was the poster child for what was being done right."

One of the things they say it's doing right is the flexible work schedule, even though it might leave some workers feeling very insecure about their futures.

Both Todd Strange and Ellen McNair repeated what Hyundai has been saying for days now. The company has no long-term plan for workers schedules.

Reporter: Eileen Jones