General Motors’ decision to undergo a $6 billion restructuring isn’t sitting well with politicians. Last week, GM announced a plan that calls for an estimated 15,000 layoffs and the closure of five North American production facilities—four in the U.S. and one in Canada. As soon as news of the announcement ricocheted around the internet, politicians from both sides of the aisle came out in force to condemn GM’s proposition.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau criticized the Detroit automaker. Michigan Democrats and U.S. President Donald Trump appeared to read from the same script, condemning the announcement while making vague threats to revoke a litany of tax incentives and credits. The anger and frustration with GM reached such a fevered pitch that GM CEO Mary Barra met with politicians to calm divisive rhetoric and give the politicians a quick reality check.
“I understand this is something that impacts the country and I understand that there is a lot of emotion and concern about it,” Barra said, according to Reuters.
As receptive as Barra was, she pulled no punches on telling fuming politicians GM’s current reality. Sedan sales are falling. There’s no panacea to correct that right now. Consumers buy what consumers want, and sedans aren’t in vogue. Crossovers, SUVs, and trucks are. The idea of 15,000 jobs lost sounds devastating; however, GM and Mary Barra are urging possibly affected employees to look at moving to other GM production facilities.
Barra also sounded bearish on the idea of moving Chevrolet Blazer production from Mexico to the U.S. so close the crossover’s launch, which could have eased the notion of closing plants here. The move would be too costly. Mary Barra did say during the meetings that GM planned on adding other products at U.S. plants.
For all the talk, Barra did say she’d keep an “open mind” when it came to the possible plant closures. That’s not something GM can do unilaterally. It has to hammer out the details with the United Auto Workers union, which doesn’t want layoffs or closures. The political scrambling by both sides demonstrates what we should all know by now about politicians—they have no problem making promises for things they can’t control. And they have no problem being angry about it either.