Since its opening in 1966, Lordstown, Ohio has been the backbone of the local economy. Providing plentiful high-paying jobs, working at the plant ensured, at a minimum, a direct entree to the middle-class regardless of education level. Thousands of workers were employed by the plant at its peak. Over time those numbers dropped to below 2,000.
In 2019 alone, 1,633 Lordstown auto workers and 72 members of the facilities support staff have been laid off. The majority of these layoffs occurred between March and April. There are currently less than 100 workers still active at the plant but with the completion of this project, it is likely that they will be laid off in the coming weeks as well.
According to UAW Local 1112 president Dave Green, the work that is being done is mostly administrative. “We are going through and cleaning…I’m currently working in material handling. We’re just moving some stuff around.” All workers employed by the plant are represented by UAW Local 1112. This local union now has little say in what happens next.
A team from the UAW’s national headquarters is currently still engaged on ongoing negotiations with GM in the hope of seeing the plant revived. While the GM team has publicly insisted that the plant was shuttered as part of a greater move to scale down production of the Cruze, that vehicle has actually seen an increase in production at GM plants in Mexico and China.
A lawsuit has been filed. I know they are actively pursuing that and at the negotiation table, they have told me that you know, no promises, but they are not giving up on Lordstown. I’m confident that our international union is going to be able to sit down at that table later this year and help secure some future product for us.
That lawsuit, UAW v. GM was filed on February 26th of this year and is currently in federal court. UAW is representing all five of the plants, including Lordstown, that GM is closing. The automaker is defending its actions by stating that the plants are not technically closed but “unallocated.” In all publicly released statements, GM has used that term in lieu of “closure,” something they were criticized heavily for. From their court defense, it appears that the term’s use was a legal maneuver to protect themselves specifically from this type of suit. Even with a court victory, the future of the plant is uncertain.
The UAW may receive damages and compensation for the workers being terminated early, but this is unlikely to lead to the plant reopening. It is likely that the Chevy Cruze will join a long and growing list of vehicles that will never again be made in the Buckeye State.
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