GM Executives Closed Ohio Plant Despite Concessions from U.S. Workers: ‘We Did Everything They Want’

General Motors workers cheer for support outside the plant, Wednesday, March 6, 2019, in Lordstown, Ohio. General Motors' sprawling Lordstown assembly plant near Youngstown is ending production of the Chevrolet Cruze sedan, ending for now more than 50 years of auto manufacturing at the site. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Tony Dejak/AP Photo

Executives at General Motors (GM) closed the Lordstown, Ohio, assembly plant last month — resulting in the immediate layoff of about 1,600 American workers — despite major concessions from the United Auto Workers (UAW), new details reveal.

Last month, GM CEO Mary Barra closed the Lordstown plant, a decision expected to result in the layoff of more than 8,000 American workers in the area, and allegedly blamed the UAW for the plant’s closure in a phone conversation with President Trump.

“Just spoke to Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors about the Lordstown Ohio plant … I asked her to sell it or do something quickly. She blamed the UAW Union — I don’t care, I just want it open!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

New details from Bloomberg News reveal a very different story. Documents note that the UAW agreed to make nearly $120 million a year in concessions to keep the Lordstown plant open in 2017 and were stunned by the announcement in late 2018 that the Lordstown plant would eventually close.

Dan Morgan, shop chairman of UAW Local 1112, detailed the concessions to Bloomberg News that GM workers at the Lordstown plant were willing and ready to make before Barra decided to close the plant altogether.

“Everything they asked us to do, we did,” Morgan said. “And still, we don’t have a product to build.”

The UAW concessions to GM included:

  • Saving $3 million a year by merging UAW Locals 1112 and 1714
  • Agreeing to outsource non-assembly jobs to lower-wage workers
  • Agreeing to allow GM to cut the number of skilled jobs at the plant in half
  • Allowing GM to use contractors to repair vehicles at the plant

Despite “all of these things” being “very unpopular” with union workers, Morgan told Bloomberg News the UAW agreed to the concessions in July 2017 with the expectation that the new plans would go into effect in January 2018.

Instead, Morgan said, in November 2018 GM executives announced that the Lordstown plant would be idled, along with GM’s two plants in Michigan and a plant in Maryland.

Longtime GM worker Sonja Smith, who worked at the Lordstown plant for 24 years, suggested to Bloomberg News the lack of loyalty the corporation has to its employees.

“We did everything they want,” Smith said. “This is their payback.”

While GM lays off thousands of American workers, its production in Mexico and China is ramping up. Specifically, GM is looking to manufacture an electric Cadillac in China and continue manufacturing its Envision compact vehicle in China.

The made-in-Mexico Chevrolet Blazer will soon arrive in U.S. markets. Last year, GM became the largest automaker in Mexico, as it has cut jobs in America and increased production to Mexico.

Offshoring production to Mexico has proven cheaper for GM executives, as American workers earn $30 an hour while Mexican workers earn about $3 an hour, a 90 percent cut to wages that widens the corporation’s profit margins. Barra, for example, continues to rake in about $22 million despite the corporation’s layoffs of thousands of U.S. workers.

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder

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