General Motors’ Monday announcement of possible plant closures, layoffs, and discontinued models reached affected employees as everyone else in the world learned about the developments, taking many aback. The Detroit Free Press spoke with Detroit-Hamtramck workers about the news, and line worker Dnitra Landon was vocal about her shock.
Except Detroit-Hamtramck and those other four facilities may not close at all. At least not yet, as General Motors cannot contractually shut down plants on its own. Instead, it must negotiate the proposed closures with the United Auto Workers union. Even GM’s own statement is worded in a specific way. The automaker said it would idle the plants and they would be “unallocated” in 2019. This is a negotiating tool for the automaker, signaling to the union what it would like to do. The contract between the two expires in September 2019.
Landon said hearing of the closing without any warning was a “slap in the face.” According to Landon, union representatives at the plant quashed layoff rumors just two weeks ago, and now GM is proposing to close the plant by the end of 2019. Landon added she hadn’t heard anything from the UAW.
“Now you’re closing? Really? And you didn’t give no warning? None. That’s not fair,” Landon added to the interview. “GM is a big entity—I understand that it’s business, but there’s a way to go about doing something for the people who come to work every day and help you make the numbers that you make.”
While sedan sales in the U.S. are declining, SUV, crossover, and truck sales are skyrocketing. The Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Cruze, Cadillac CT6, and others are just not selling as consumers flock to larger crossovers, SUVs, and pickup trucks thanks to an abundance of available credit, low gas prices, increased fuel efficiency, and extended loan terms.
The lack of traditional car sales makes producing such vehicles for a profit difficult. GM’s decision to shift production away from unprofitable models is a preemptive move to better prepare itself for a potential slowdown while positioning itself to pursue technological innovation in the automotive space—electrification and autonomous vehicles.