The last Chevrolet Cruze is scheduled to roll off the assembly line in Lordstown, Ohio, today, moving the big General Motors assembly plant alongside the Ohio Turnpike in northeast Ohio, one step closer to abandonment and intensifying the confrontation between GM and the United Auto Workers.
More than 1,400 blue-collar workers will be impacted by the end of production at Lordstown and GM has promised that it has jobs for all of them, while offering special packages to employees ready for retirement.
But the UAW has already filed suit in federal court charging the idling of the Lordstown plant and two other factories, claiming the shutdown down violated the union’s current contract with the automaker. GM has denied the UAW’s claim.
GM decision, which company has insisted was the result of the shift by consumers from compact cars to sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks sharply cut demand for the Cruze, has come under fire from both Democratic and Republican political figures as well as President Donald Trump, who took to twitter to express his ire about the shutdown after it was announced in December.
(UAW sues General Motors over plant closures. Click Here for the story.)
Meanwhile activists throughout northeast Ohio are vowing to keep up the pressure on GM, which is facing a difficult and complicated set of negotiations with the UAW next summer and fall.
Activists are calling on people throughout Ohio to join Mahoning Valley residents March 8, in a show of support, according to the Youngstown Vindicator.
The Drive It Home Ohio campaign is asking Ohioans to show they are “true blue,” hard-working, dedicated, loyal and dependable by wearing something blue that day – the Chevy Cruze plant’s last, unless it receives an unlikely reprieve – and to post a photo on Facebook and other social media with the hashtag #SaveLordstown.
Dave Green, president of United Auto Workers Local 1112, told the Vindicator “we remain optimistic and hopeful that GM Lordstown will stay open because we’ve been true blue members of the GM family for 53 years and we’re not asking for anything more than just the opportunity to continue to build the finest GM cars and trucks for the next 53 years.”
The union blames the shutdown on GM’s decision to shift assembly work to Mexico rather than maintain operations at plants such Lordstown.
(Click Here for more about GM expecting bigger profits, more transformation in 2019.)
In a meeting with Robert Lighthizer, UAW President Gary Jones said the revision to the North American Free Trade Agreement don’t go anywhere near far enough to correcting the trade imbalance between with Mexico where wages of workers are a fraction of those in plants in the U.S.
“This was an opportunity for Ambassador Robert Lighthizer and his staff to meet and hear UAW leadership and workers who have seen their work and communities devastated by the failed NAFTA. We welcome the dialogue and continue to advocate for a “New” NAFTA that will be a good deal for working people by lifting wages in the United States and creating more good jobs” Jones said in a statement released after the meeting.
“While some progress has been made, it is clear from current auto company investments abroad, that more work needs to be done to make this agreement enforceable and meaningful to our members and their job security. We urge the Administration and Congress to finally create a trade agreement that provides working Americans the job security future they deserve,” he said.
The UAW, AFL-CIO and other unions and the Democratic majority in the House of Representative are asking for sweeping changes in Mexican labor law that would make it easier for Mexican workers to press for higher wages and substantially reverse the policy of keeping wages depressed that the Mexican government has favored for the past quarter century as it competes for business with China and other countries in Asia.
(To see more about Mary Barra’s radical reshaping of General Motors, Click Here.)
Meanwhile, the Toronto City Council has adopted a policy that would forbid city departments from buying GM vehicles made in Mexico in response to a campaign by Unifor, the union representing Canadian autoworkers, which is pressing GM to keep open a plant in Oshawa, Ont., which the company also has announced it plans to shutter.