Employees of the General Motors Lordstown Complex were the largest group of workers from a single Ohio employer were displaced by mass layoffs
It may re-open in the summer. For 1,600 workers, that’s not much comfort at all.
By David Grossman
Mar 7, 2019 – General Motors’ Lordstown Assembly plant was in continual operation since 1966 through yesterday, March 6, 2019. The idling of the plant affected 1,600 workers and is the largest of the U.S-based GM four plants that will close this year.
Originally dedicated to iconic cars like the Chevy Impala and Pontiac Firebird, since 2011 the plant built electric Chevy Cruzes. Through the years, the planet built over 16 million cars. However, amidst a restructuring the company decided to discontinue the model in America.
In a press statement, GM said that the Cruze “was a good product and was built with tremendous pride by the Lordstown employees. We know this is an emotional day for our Lordstown team.”
The company announced that 400 of its Lordstown employees have taken offers at other GM locations, and jobs were available for those willing to relocate. GM CEO Mary Bara has said that the plant might reopen during the summer, depending on negotiations with the United Auto Workers (UAW) union.
“Our fate really rests in their hands at the bargaining table,” said David Green, president of UAW Local 1112, which represents approximately 1,400 workers whose last day on the job was yesterday, speaking to the Youngstown Business Journal. “They’re going to fight for us.”
The plant has a history of strong union organizing. A strike in 1972 fought to make jobs less robotic and promenently featured some of the first women to work on the line at the plant. In 2007, workers agreed to pay new employees lower wages in order to keep the plant open. Speaking to CNN, Green said that “We don’t want Elon Musk coming in. We don’t want Amazon building a distribution center… It feels like they betrayed us a little bit.”
“It’s sad,” said Youngstown mayor Arno Hill, speaking to the Youngstown Vindicator. “We hate to see this happen, dislocating people. It’s tough on families and everything, but I know it was a business decision, and at least most people are getting offered another job. I think it’s probably 50/50. Some people want to stay and see what happens.”
Vocal workers took a more antagonistic stance towards GM. As documented by NBC News, the last Chevy Cruze has secret messages embedded within, which will likely never be discovered by their owner. Underneath its white paint, messages such as “We succeed despite you” offered a defiant stance, while the factory employees also signed the car’s front seat cushions.
“Today is bitterly cold,” a UAW-affiliated protestor told NBC, “but not nearly as cold as the hearts of the corporate executives that may close this plant.”