General Motors Corp. was gearing up to make an announcement by late September about the fate of its Camaro/Firebird sports cars, which could threaten the future of the Ste. Therese, Que., assembly plant where they are made. To shutter the plant, GM had to make an announcement by the end of September or take up the matter during bargaining next fall with the Canadian Auto Workers union. The three-year labor pact signed by the CAW and GM in October of 1999 prevents the 36-year-old facility from being sold, closed or leased during the life of the contract and stipulates GM must give at least one year's notice prior to a plant closure. At a June meeting with GM officials, “they were still talking about what could be done to save it,” CAW President Buzz Hargrove tells WAW prior to any formal announcement. “Closing it was not mentioned. I've told GM, ‘If you don't find a solution now, you have to find one in bargaining.’” There has been talk inside GM that the automaker plans to announce its intention by year end — the holdup was deciding when to take the financial charge on its fiscal books. Mr. Hargrove was doubtful the future of Ste. Therese would be raised prior to national contract negotiations in 2002, “unless they say, ‘to hell with the collective bargaining agreement,’ which I find hard to believe they'd do.” A GM of Canada spokesman denied an announcement was planned regarding Ste. Therese. While the facility isn't old, it assembles products that aren't selling well at a time when GM has too many factories relative to its market share, and indications abound that Camaro/Firebird will go out of production in 2002, and perhaps resurface after a brief market hiatus with output shifting to the Bowling Green facility. The Quebec government has a financial incentive package to keep the plant open totaling C$300 million, including C$100 million for GM and C$200 million for parts suppliers.