The Leeds Assembly Plant is located in the Leeds district of Kansas City Missouri at 6817 Stadium Drive, Kansas City Missouri. The GM operations are closed, and the facility has been sold and is now used as a warehouse and for outdoor storage.
The early years
The Leeds Assembly Plant began operations in 1929 as two separate divisions with GM controlled Fisher Body and Chevrolet plants under one roof. Each division had its own staff including engineers & administrative positions. THE WALL down the length of the Leeds facility completely separated operations of Fisher Body & Chevrolet operations and the car bodies were literally pushed through a hole in the wall from Fisher Body to the Chevrolet side.
The Leeds sit-down strike
The Leeds plant was one of the earliest sit down strike locations, following the initial sit down strike at the assembly plant in Atlanta. On December 16, 1936 Fisher Body workers began an eight-day strike that only ended because of the inability to bring food into the plant for workers. The basis for the strike was the firing of an employee the previous day; however Fisher Body employees were said to be paid less than Chevrolet workers and were to have had less job security, and the UAW was pressing for National recognition of the union.
Without car bodies being passed through the hole, the production of Chevrolet vehicles quickly ceased. On February 17, 1937, two months after UAW members at the Leeds plant sat down on their jobs, GM recognized the UAW, altering automobile labor relations.
Chevrolet Assembly (pre-General Motors Assembly Division circa 1965)
Plants operated under Chevrolet Assembly management prior to General Motors Assembly Division management (most established pre-1945). Additional Chevrolet Assembly plants were located at Buffalo, New York and Oakland, California. Framingham, Massachusetts is unusual in that it changed from Buick-Oldsmobile-Pontiac Assembly management to Chevy management prior to becoming GMAD.
The terminology is confusing because most plants assembled more than just Chevrolet or B-O-P, and refers to the management structure only. The five brands originated vehicles from their respective "home" plants, where vehicles were assembled locally for their respective regions. Vehicles were also produced in "knock-down" kits and sent to the branch assembly locations. The "home" branches were Flint, Michigan for both Buick and Chevrolet; Oldsmobile at Lansing, Michigan; Pontiac at Pontiac, Michigan; and Cadillac at Detroit, Michigan.
- St. Louis Truck Assembly, St. Louis, Missouri
- Janesville Assembly, Janesville, Wisconsin
- Norwood Assembly, Norwood, Ohio
- Flint Truck Assembly, Flint, Michigan
- North Tarrytown Assembly, Tarrytown, New York
- Lakewood Assembly, Atlanta, Georgia
- Leeds Assembly, Kansas City, Missouri
- Baltimore Assembly, Baltimore, Maryland
- Van Nuys Assembly, Los Angeles, California
- Willow Run Assembly, Ypsilanti, Michigan
- Framingham Assembly, Framingham, Massachusetts
- Lordstown Assembly, Lordstown, Ohio
General Motors Assembly Division also known as "GMAD"
General Motors maintained the two division production at the Leeds Assembly plant for 40 Years
The Fisher/Chevy Wall in the Leeds assembly came down in 1969 when the General Motors Assembly Division (GMAD) was formed which consolidated all assembly operations under one division. General Motors divisions (Fisher Body, Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick, Oldsmobile, Cadillac and GMC) were divested of assembly responsibilities. In the 1970s Leeds produced the classic Chevrolet Monte Carlo, and the Malibu and El Camino vehicles.
BOC and the J-Car
Leeds Assembly operated under GMAD until the early 1980s when the GM assembly operations were reconfigured into: 1) Buick-Oldsmobile-Cadillac division (BOC) and 2) Chevrolet-Pontiac-GM Canada (CPC), with Leeds being placed in the BOC division.
Following a plant retooling, Leeds produced the downsized Monte Carlo, and Malibu, but after mediocre sales of the downsized vehicles, Leeds became one of four assembly plants chosen to produce the J-Car (the other plants—Janesville, Southgate in California & Lordstown, Ohio).
Leeds was the primary producer of the Buick Skyhawk and the Oldsmobile Firenza, with subsequent addition of the Chevrolet Cavalier production.
The plant is physically located close to the Blue River. Beginning in the late 1970s the plant was subjected to flooding due to street runoff into storm drains upstream in Missouri and Kansas. In 1977 a foot of water flooded the production area throughout the plant, however three days later the plant was back in production. The plant flooded one more time while in production, and a third and final time after productions had ceased.
The Leeds Assembly plant officially ceased automobile production on April 15, 1988. The land-locked facility was bordered on the east & west by railroad tracks, on the south by the Blue River, and was not a candidate for expansion.
Attempts to bring the Chevrolet S-10 Pickup truck to Leeds were not successful.
At its peak employment, over 4,500 persons hourly and salary worked at the Leeds plant producing 60 vehicles per hour on two production shifts.
- "GM Leeds Plant Will Not Reopen". AP News Archive. Retrieved 13 June 2013.