Guy White, United Automobile Worker’s shop chairman, says that employees at the GM Baltimore Powertrain plant feel like pawns. White called the closure of the plant a modern-day lockout the automaker would use as leverage at the negotiating table later this year. General Motors told employees that production at the plant would end May 4th and nearly 300 workers will lose their jobs.
General Motors announced late last November that was planning to idle five North American factories, including the GM Baltimore powertrain that produces the six-speed Allison A1000 transmission for the current-generation Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD pickup trucks. The factory also produced the electric drive motors for the Cadillac CT6 PHEV. The announcements come at a time that the GM-based automaker is restructuring its business to focus on developing electric and autonomous vehicles.
While many employees may be able to stay employed at General Motors by accepting positions at other GM factories, not everyone working at GM Baltimore is as fortunate. WYPR spoke with Kip Hinton, a contract employee who works at the plant. He doesn’t have the opportunity to transfer and, when production ends on May 4th, he’ll lose his much-needed medical benefits, which are crucial for his wife who has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Hinton said he needs the benefits more than the money, as his wife’s medical care costs thousands of dollars. She’s was prescribed one medication that costs $14,000 a month, while also needing a $3,000 yearly MRI.
But it’s not just employees who are upset. U.S. Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, whose district includes GM Baltimore, is angry. He put a significant effort in helping bail out the automaker during the 2008 recession.
But White said he understood the truth – GM makes more money when it sends jobs to Mexico. He told WYPR it doesn’t make sense to pay someone $30 an hour when the company can pay someone $3 an hour to do the same job. In 2018, General Motors became Mexico’s largest automaker.