There’s been a lot of focus on the GM Lordstown plant in Ohio that built the Chevrolet Cruze. Vehicle production ended earlier this month, though stamping operations for service parts could continue through June. U.S. President Donald Trump called on GM CEO Mary Barra to hastily begin production of a new product at Lordstown or find a company that would bring new jobs to the factory. According to a new report from Bloomberg, the United Automobiles Workers Local 1112 made $118 million in concessions in 2017 to save the factory only to have GM announce in November 2018 that it’d like to idle the plant indefinitely. That’s not sat well with the current Lordstown employees.
The UAW agreed to a “Super Competitive Operating Agreement” that allowed the Detroit automaker to bring in low-wage temp and contract workers to work in the plant. The goal was to save money. But that wasn’t enough to save the GM Lordstown plant. As Cruze sales fell, GM began eliminating shifts. First, the company cut third shift and 1,200 jobs, only to later cut the second shift and another 1,500 jobs. Other concessions included merging UAW Locals 1112 and 1714, which saved $3 million, cutting skilled tradespeople in half to 130, allowing the company to contract out skilled labor to contract works, and much more.
The goal of the concessions was to get the Cruze back into the black, which would give the GM Lordstown factory a much better opportunity to get a new product, according to Dan Morgan, the shop chairman of Local 1112, who spoke to Bloomberg. The union signed the concessions deal in late July 2017, which would begin in January 2018. Morgan said the concessions were unpopular, adding that Chevrolet’s sales and marketing group was supposed to advertise the car more aggressively. That did not happen, according to Morgan.
For many Lordstown employees, GM’s actions since signing the concession agreement are despicable. The local UAW and employees gave the automaker everything it wanted to save the plant from a disastrous future only to have production end earlier this month. This has left many workers in limbo, wondering if they should take a new job at another GM factory or wait to see if GM allocates a new product to the plant when negations between the UAW and GM begin later this year. Regardless of the outcome, the last 18 months will leave a bitter taste in the mouths of many Lordstown employees.