GM CEO Mary Barra is in for a heartfelt plea from thousands of area schoolchildren in the Mahoning Valley area of Ohio, home to the Lordstown car production plant.
The Detroit Free Press reported Friday that schoolkids have penned “Christmas Wish” letters to GM CEO Mary Barra and each of them asked the executive to reconsider the Ohio plant’s future. Lordstown is one of four manufacturing plants in the United States that GM plans to idle next year, and could possibly close.
In total, 20 school districts participated in the campaign, which is part of the “Drive It Home” campaign to help GM understand the impact the Lordstown plant’s closure will have on the area. Children of many ages wrote that the pending closure would upend families, leave their parents without a healthy income, and many simply said the area was their home.
“I personally have many (diseases) and if the Lordstown closes, I won’t be able to afford my medicine,” fifth-grader Brian Davis wrote in one of the letters to Barra.
The letters underscore the human element to such a decision, though Barra thus far hasn’t hinted Lordstown has a future. She reportedly said she would keep an open mind after meeting with Michigan and Ohio lawmakers earlier this month, but the plant’s future will be determined as the United Auto Workers negotiate a new labor contract with the automaker next year.
GM must successfully negotiate the plant’s closure and cannot simply shut the plant down. Thus, the plant will be idled next year until a decision is made. Should the plant close, it will sweep away 1,600 jobs from the area. The figure does not include thousands more who were laid off prior to the announcement; Lordstown once ran three shifts to keep up with demand for the Chevrolet Cruze.
The automaker said it will gladly accept the letter when they’re delivered and a spokesperson said GM is working hard to find job opportunities for those affected by the layoffs.
David Green, UAW Local 1112 President, said the relocation opportunities are just a way for GM to try and spin the negative news.
“I still have 700 people who’ve been laid off in the last couple of years who have not been able to relocate,” said Green. “GM says that because they want to reframe it. But they can’t just relocate those people.”