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Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

General Motors said Monday that it will cut 15% of its salaried workforce, estimated to be around 14,700 people in North America, and that it will idle factories in Michigan, Ohio, Maryland and Canada.

The bottom line: GM said when it emerged from bankruptcy that it must be profitable in both good times and bad, and today's moves suggest that it is preparing for an economic downturn.

GM says it will "unallocate" multiple North American plants in 2019, which basically means those facilities will not be asked to make product. It's the first procedural step toward outright closure, which cannot happen before a negotiated labor union agreement. The affected plants are:

  • Oshawa Assembly in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
  • Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly in Detroit
  • Lordstown Assembly in Warren, Ohio
  • Baltimore Operations in White Marsh, Maryland
  • Warren Transmission Operations in Warren, Michigan

The automaker also said it will close two other manufacturing facilities outside North America, in addition to a previously announced shuttering of an assembly plant in Gunsan, South Korea.

It anticipates the restructuring will cost between $3 billion and $3.8 billion, with the layoffs including 25% of GM's executive staff.

  • Future development will focus on electric-powered crossovers, trucks and SUVs, with sedans and gas-powered cars being de-emphasized.
  • GM stock was halted on the announcement, but then rose over 5% once trading resumed.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Home confinees face imminent return to prison

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Thousands of prisoners who've been in home confinement for as long as a year because of the pandemic face returning to prison when it's over — unless President Biden rescinds a last-minute Trump Justice Department memo.

Why it matters: Most prisoners were told they would not have to come back as they were released early with ankle bracelets. Now, their lives are on hold while they wait to see whether or when they may be forced back behind bars. Advocates say about 4,500 people are affected.

The "essential" committee that still doesn't exist

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Nearly five months after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the creation of the bipartisan Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth, it's not been formed much less met.

Why it matters: Select committees are designed to address urgent matters, but the 117th Congress is now nearly one-quarter complete without this panel assembling. When she announced this committee, Pelosi described it as an "essential force" to "combat the crisis of income and wealth disparity in America."

Biden's ethics end-around for labor

President Biden surveys a water treatment plant during a visit to New Orleans today. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration is excusing top officials from ethics rules that would otherwise restrict their work with large labor unions that previously employed them, federal records show.

Why it matters: Labor's sizable personnel presence in the administration is driving policy, and the president's appointment of top union officials to senior posts gives those unions powerful voices in the federal bureaucracy — even at the cost of strictly adhering to his own stringent ethics standards.