The GM Lordstown factory goes idle today as the final Chevrolet Cruze leaves the assembly line. The plant, officially scheduled to idle Friday, March 8, will remain in a “state of readiness,” according to GM spokesman Dan Flores who spoke with the Associated Press. That means the factory will remain heated and maintained in the coming months, ready to produce once again at a moment’s notice.
However, operations at the facility aren’t complete just yet. Some production at the GM Lordstown plant will continue for the most of March. The factory’s parts-stamping operations will continue, producing fenders and other replacement parts.
The Lordstown facility, and two other U.S. GM factories, are scheduled to idle ahead of negotiations between General Motors and the United Auto Workers union later this year. These negotiations will determine the final fate of the GM Lordstown factory and others. A fourth factory, GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck was scheduled to end operations this year; however, the automaker extended operations, continuing production of the Cadillac CT6 and Chevrolet Impala.
The UAW is fighting to keep the factories open as agreed upon in its contract with General Motors. The UAW filed a lawsuit against GM alleging the automaker violated the agreement by calling idled plants “unallocated” as opposed to idled, shutdown or closed. If the UAW won its lawsuit, it’d only keep the three plants operating through the end of the contract. Anything can happen to production at the facilities once negotiations are underway.
While General Motors will keep the factory in a “state of readiness,” its future remains murky. Even though operations could resume at the factory, as Flores said, it may be a false hope for the community. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) said he believes GM is looking for someone to take over the Lordstown factory. Detailed plans likely won’t emerge until contract negotiations begin later this year with the UAW.