When news broke General Motors wanted to close five North American factories, critics crept up from their caves to blast the Detroit automaker for even suggesting such a possibility. Politicians, unions, and employees were shocked, flabbergasted, and taken aback at the news, raking General Motors over the collective media coals. Democratic politicians took a page out of President Donald Trump’s playbook, threatening to end several tax breaks. Workers at Canada’s Oshawa plant walked off the line after the announcement.
Just last week, employees there traveled to Windsor during the North American International Auto Show to protest the company’s decision. Even newly-elected Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she had concerns about the announcement; however, there’s likely little she can do to adjust GM’s business decision.
Workers at the affected facilities were hopeful new products from GM’s portfolio would save the factories. General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said last week at the Automotive News World Congress that new products coming to Detroit-Hamtramck and Lordstown Assembly are unlikely.
“When we made the very difficult decision about the plants impacted, we have other plants that have lower capacity utilization that we’d want to increase,” Barra told reporters, according to the Detroit Free Press.
While GM is planning to produce 20 new electric vehicles in the next few years, Barra was bullish on any of the products being assembled at the plants the company has proposed to close. Instead, General Motors is more interested in increasing production capacity at other facilities.
“We have more products coming that we will build in the United States and we’ll provide opportunities,” Barra said, adding, “We need to make sure the capacity is up at other plants that we’re still working to improve.”
Barra suggested employees at the affected plants transfer elsewhere. Currently, the company has 2,700 openings at factories in Flint, Michigan; Spring Hill, Tennessee; and Arlington, Texas, but just 1,500 UAW workers at affected plants have so far taken the transfer offer.