As Lordstown GM’s Last Car Rolls Off the Line, 1,400 Jobs Disappear

Cathalijne Adams

Cathalijne Adams Writer/Researcher, AAM

General Motors’ (GM) Lordstown Township plant’s first car, a Chevrolet Impala, cruised onto the road on April 28, 1966, and decades of work at the plant followed. But on Wednesday, the plant’s last car rolled off the assembly line, 1,400 jobs came to an end, and entire community suffers in their wake.

One of five GM plants that will be idled, Lordstown shut down production. Though 700 Lordstown workers have transferred to other GM plants, many are unable to uproot their families and have been left to search for new employment.

For GM executives like CEO Mary Bara, the closure of plants like Lordstown represents a shifting of gears to accommodate emerging automotive trends. But the human toll of the decision to unallocate plants is very real.

When family-supporting manufacturing jobs leave a town, few workers, particularly those without a college degree, can find employment that can replace these valuable jobs, as this Washington Post article illustrates.

GM production workers can earn between $61,000 and $88,000 annually. In stark contrast, the average salary in the area surrounding the Lordstown plant was only $38,000 in 2017.

With few employment options left in Lordstown, some workers are holding out hope that United Automobile Workers’ (UAW) labor contract negotiations with GM this fall will bring new production to the Lordstown plant. (UAW is currently also in the process of suing GM for stopping production at three plants before labor contracts expired.)

We at AAM hope that it is indeed not too late to restore at least some of these lost jobs. However, there’s much that could have been done to prevent the plant closures from the start. When corporate greed overrides responsible custodianship of a company, not only do workers lose, but entire communities supported by these valuable manufacturing jobs are devastated.

Manufacturing jobs have an outsize impact on employment outside the factory – a boon for areas where manufacturing is supported and a calamity where manufacturing jobs are eliminated. As a 2015 Economic Policy Institute report states, “For every person directly employed in manufacturing, manufacturing output supports more than 1.4 jobs elsewhere in the economy.”

The Lordstown community clears understands this – more than 100 people supported workers at the plant’s closing Wednesday, and Lordstown school board members lamented the strife children will experience in the closing’s aftermath – more than 10 percent of the school district’s students will be directly impacted by the plant closure.

GM’s workers are highly-trained professionals who deserve the opportunity to grow with their company. Bringing production of GM’s more popular models would honor their work and fully utilize GM’s human capital.

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Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Steel for Wind Power

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

Siemens Gamesa last month laid off 130 workers at its turbine blade manufacturing plant in Iowa, just months after GE Renewable Energy decided to close an Arkansas factory and eliminate 470 jobs.

The companies reported shrinking demand for their products, even though U.S. consumption of wind energy increases every year.

America’s prosperity depends not only on harnessing this crucial energy source but also ensuring that highly skilled U.S. workers build the components with the cleanest technology available.

Right now, the nation relies on imported steel and turbine components from foreign manufacturers like China while America’s own steel industry—well equipped for this production—struggles because of dumping and other unfair trade practices.

Steel makes up the bulk of turbine hubs and the wind towers themselves. It’s also used to make the cranes and platforms necessary for installing the towers.

Yet the potential boon to America’s steel industry is just one reason to ramp up domestic production of wind energy infrastructure.

American steel production ranks among the cleanest in the world, while China has the highest carbon emissions of any steelmaking nation and flouts environmental regulations.

The nation’s highly-skilled steelmaking workforce must play an essential role in the deeply-needed revitalization and modernization of the nation’s failing infrastructure. Producing the components for harnessing wind energy domestically and cleanly is an important step that will put Americans to work and position the United States to be world leaders in this growing industry.

 

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work