Dapper attendees to this year’s North American International Auto Show Charity Preview may have caught a glimpse of simultaneous organized protests featuring lawmakers, environmentalists, and more. All of which are targeting General Motors for its plan to lay off works and close five North American factories. Naturally, at the center of the protests is the United Auto Workers union, which is unhappy with GM’s plan to close the five factories—four in the U.S. and one in Canada.
The closures could affect up to 6,300 hourly employees between the two countries, though experts suspect the layoffs could have a ripple effect throughout the economy, leaving thousands more jobless. The UAW candlelight vigil was held on Friday, January 18 from 5-7 p.m. in Hart Plaza just down from Charity Preview event happening at Cobo Center, according to The Detroit News.
“This year for many autoworkers it is not a celebration,” Terry Dittes, UAW vice president, said in a statement. “They invested in General Motors to make record profits only to see their plants idled while Mexican production is increasing. America expects GM to build product in their biggest selling market right here in the USA. So, on Friday our members will have a vigil to remind all of those going to the auto show’s big night that we were there for them in their darkest hours, and now we need them to invest in us, all of us.”
In addition to the UAW protest in Hart Plaza, a group of 16 other organizations held a separate rally called “Make Detroit the Engine of a Green New Deal,” taking General Motors to task for its decision to idle the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant. That event took place on Friday January, 18 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. outside Cobo Center. Newly-elected U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib was said to attend both events.
This new round of protests comes just days after General Motors workers from the Oshawa Assembly plant have held a protest at the Detroit River waterfront against GM’s proposal to close the Canada facility.