UAW: GM Lordstown will "keep fighting" to get new product, stop - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

UAW: GM Lordstown will "keep fighting" to get new product, stop plant from idling

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LORDSTOWN, Ohio -

The future of General Motors Lordstown is once again under a magnifying glass as employees of the plant are called in for a meeting early Monday. 

Union officials said Monday morning that they were notified during the meeting that the plant will be idle as of March 1st, 2019 since no new product will be allocated to the plant. 

In an official release from General Motors, the company says it is "accelerating" a transformation to its global operations. 

A portion of that statement reads, "Today, GM is continuing to take proactive steps to improve overall business performance including the reorganization of its global product development staffs, the realignment of its manufacturing capacity and a reduction of salaried workforce. These actions are expected to increase annual adjusted automotive free cash flow by $6 billion by year-end 2020 on a run-rate basis."

Part of that transformation includes allocating future products to fewer pants. In addition to Lordstown, GM announced that the Oshawa and Detroit-Hamtrack plants will remain "unallocated", meaning they will not have a vehicle assigned to them. 

In addition, the Baltimore, Maryland and Warren, Michigan propulsion plants will remain unallocated. 

During a news conference, UAW 1112 President Dave Green urged union members and the community not to give up hope, saying that the possibility remained open that General Motors and the union could negotiate to bring a new product to the plant. 

Green said part of their mission moving forward is to "convince" General Motors to protect jobs in Lordstown and protect manufacturing jobs in the area. 

The Associated Press reported early Monday morning that General Motors was expected to close their Canadian plant amid a "global restructuring". 

In that AP report, Lordstown was singled out as a "possible target" for GM, citing the need to reduce personnel and the uncertainty of whether enough employees took a proffered buyout from the company. 

The Associated Press reports that more than 14,500 jobs will be lost in North America. 

Less than two years ago, GM Lordstown boasted more than 4,500 employees. However, that number has since dwindled. 

Twenty years ago the Valley backed the "Bring It Home" campaign which helped to bring the Cobalt to Lordstown and saved the plant from closing.

Now, with thousands of lost jobs and an uncertain future for Lordstown, plans are in the works for another grassroots campaign.

That "Drive It Home" campaign has received the backing of state and local lawmakers. 

Green says the union is not giving up hope.  

While the exact number of employees who will lose their job is not yet known, Green says the option is potentially there for some workers to retire or to transfer to other locations. 

In January 2017, General Motors announced the elimination of the third shift at the Lordstown Complex due to what the company says was a change in buyer preference from small cars to trucks and crossover vehicles.

1,200 UAW members lost their jobs when the shift came to an end.

A little more than a year later, in April 2018, employees at the Lordstown plant were told that production would be cut to just one shift. 

Approximately 1,500 positions were lost when that shift was cut. 

Since June, GM Lordstown has been operating on a single shift. 

According to the company website, that single shift has a workforce of 1,435 hourly employees, as well as 183 salaried employees. 

According to General Motors, the Lordstown plant is responsible for more than $181 million in wages and pays more than $35 million in salary taxes. 

The Lordstown plant says it has built more than 16.3 million vehicles since its opening in 1966.

In addition, the plant is responsible for millions of dollars in donations and charitable giving throughout the years. 

Just one month after the second shift at Lordstown came to an end, General Motors said that new tariffs on the auto industry could force downsizing. 

In July GM said these tariffs, combined with other trade actions, could be "detrimental" to the company.

"If import tariffs on automobiles are not tailored to specifically advance the objectives of the economic and national security goals of the United States, increased import tariffs could lead to a smaller GM, a reduced presence at home and abroad for this iconic American company, and riskless not more U.S. jobs," GM said.

GM said the effects from tariffs could lead to less investment, fewer jobs and lower wages for employees.

Since then, a quarterly sales report continued to show declining sales numbers for the Lordstown built Chevy Cruze. 

GM sold 31,971 Cruzes between July and September of this year, compared to 44,046 sold during the same quarter in 2017- a 27% decrease from the same time period a year ago.

Those numbers for the most recent sales quarter are also down 16% from the previous quarter when 37,836 Cruzes were sold.

Year-to-date, Cruze sales are down 26.5% compared to the first nine months of 2017.

Sales for all GM cars and trucks declined 11 percent year over year, with the company blaming the impact of hurricanes.

In its latest report, GM said combined sales of the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban and the GMC Yukon full-size SUVs were up 12 percent.

GM's mid-size pickups, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, were up a combined 6 percent.

It was the best third quarter for GM midsize pickup sales since 2004, driven by the Chevrolet Colorado, which posted its best-ever third quarter sales.

The newest crossovers from Chevrolet, Buick, and GMC, the Traverse, Enclave, and Terrain, were up three percent, seven percent, and 14 percent, respectively.

Both U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman have lobbied GM CEO Mary Barra to bring a new product to the Lordstown plant.  Both Senators say Barra has not made a commitment to do so.

General Motors announced in 2015 a $350 million investment at the production facility in Ramos Arzipe, Mexico so that the plant could begin producing the Chevy Cruze. 

Just one year later, GM announced that Mexican made models of the new Chevy Cruze would be shipped to car dealers in the United States, but said that the Mexican production would not impact Lordstown.

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