The GM Lordstown plant settled in Ohio’s Trumbull County will go idle on March 8, which officially leaves thousands of workers in limbo and with tough choices to make.
Local newspaper The Vindicator reported workers are encouraged to wear blue as part of the Drive It Home Ohio campaign—a campaign instituted to highlight workers’ importance to Ohio. The campaign also pushed workers to take photos and share them across social media with the hashtag #SaveLordstown.
When the final shift ends at 3:00 p.m. on March 8, community leaders plan to ring the church bells and hope locals will join the workforce in wearing blue to show solidarity with the laid-off workers. When the final shift wraps up, it will be up to the United Auto Workers union to attempt to bring the plant back online as part of labor contract negotiations. The current contract expires Sept. 14.
For many workers, however, it’s over. Hundreds have accepted transfer opportunities and plan to leave the Mahoning Valley. The moves, factory closures, and supplier plant shutdowns will leave detrimental effects on the community. The Detroit News reported that many plan to uproot their lives and head to different plants where GM needs employees. Christina Defelice is one of the many affected workers. She and her husband took offers to transfer to the Bedford, Indiana, casting plant.
“My hope is dimming,” she said of the possibility to save Lordstown.
So far, about 400 workers have accepted transfer opportunities, which takes crucial population from the economically-challenged Trumbull County. The village of Lordstown’s mayor said the town runs on income taxes and stands to lose $3 million in said taxes when the plant goes idle.
The automaker has also begun handing out forced-transfer slips. Employees must take the transfer, in this case to the Wentzville, Missouri, plant for truck and van production, or they lose all remaining pay and benefits. The report said 80 workers have received the forced-transfer notices and 12 have accepted so far.
The county, which flipped from blue to red in the 2016 election for President Donald Trump, faces tough roads ahead. Many locals still support the president, though share frustrations that Ohio politicians have exhibited since last November. One worker said he still supports the president, but was disappointed in the lack of urgency surrounding the GM cuts.
With the end of Lordstown production, the Chevrolet Cruze exits the brand’s portfolio of vehicles along with the Chevrolet Volt. The Impala will exit the market next January.