GM had built the Chevrolet Cruze compact car at Lordstown. In November 2018, GM said it would idle the plant along with three other plants in the United States: Detroit-Hamtramck, Warren Transmission and Baltimore Transmission.
The UAW had hoped during negotiations to get new products for the transmission plants and Lordstown to build. But GM only agreed to invest in Detroit-Hamtramck to build electric vehicles. The others remained closed.
Reaction to the news is mixed among former Lordstown workers.
"Needless to say we are heartbroken," said Mike Yakim, who worked in Lordstown until transferring to GM's Lansing Delta Township a few months ago. "It's the last nail in the coffin for Lordstown and the Mahoning Valley."
But former UAW Local 1112 President Dave Green said, "I feel bad for the people who are left behind and my hope moving forward is that it can grow because it's a significant cry from 4,500 jobs out of the community. I'm glad something will be in there and it is not sitting empty."
Since building the last Cruze in March, about 1,400 Lordstown workers transferred to other GM plants around the country. But nearly 400 of them declined transfers and remain in the Lordstown area, said O'Hara.
Earlier Thursday, GM management met with "several hundred" of the former Lordstown workers still in the area, said O'Hara. There were two meetings held inside conference rooms in the nearly vacant plant where GM managers reviewed the buyout options GM has offered in the new four-year union contract and answered questions, O'Hara said.
-- Employees who turned down transfer offers have been offered buyouts of up to $75,000, and the option of one more job offer from GM.
-- Retirement-eligible employees, including those who transferred, were offered either $75,000 (production workers) or $85,000 (skilled trades) if they opt to retire.
-- Employees close to full retirement eligibility also were offered incentives to bridge to retirement.
O'Hara said neither GM nor Lordstown Motors has met with the union and details remain sketchy as to when Lordstown Motors will begin tooling the plant, hiring and starting production. It's also unknown if the jobs will be unionized.
"If they're going to be union represented, we'd like Local 1112 to be their bargaining agent when that time comes," said O'Hara. "We don't want the local to go away and that was a fear of ours after the contract ended."
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