GM's Lordstown plant is gone, despite Trump promises

The president threw himself in 2016 as a savior for workers, taking the unusual approach of publicly pressing companies like Carrier to change their plans to relocate or change production. But despite months of demands, Trump has failed to get GM to keep jobs in Lordstown.
Trump zeroed in on the Ohio plant because of his promise to working class voters that he would revive American manufacturing and retain jobs in the United States. With that promise, Trump won Ohio and did well with voters in the Mahoning Valley – a key to securing the 2016 election.

In 2017, Trump went to Youngstown, 15 miles down the road from the Lordstown facility, promising residents that production jobs would come back to the region and tell the audience: "Don't move. Don't sell your house."

GM worker Ernie Long heard that speech while he was still at the Lordstown plant.

"He didn't say sell your house, and look, now I got to sell my house that I just built three years ago," said Long, who has been at the facility for 1[ads1]1 years. He is still a member of his union – Local 1112 – but is injured and not currently working.

Lordstown, which produced the Cruze sedan, closed on March 6, leaving 1,600 people without jobs. GM says it has moved 1,300 employees per hour – but some moved in the hope that their old facility would reopen under a new union contract with GM. However, the agreement reached this week does not include any provisions for it.

"So many people left the community with the idea in mind that, you know what? Our union is strong and our union is going to get us back to work in Lordstown one day," said Tommy Wolikow, a former Lordstown worker. "To hear this news that we might not get a new General Motors product, it's just devastating."

Administrators ushered in the end of the GM strike on Thursday, preventing the Lordstown case. Peter Navarro, director of trade and production policy at the White House, told CNN Thursday that the deal will "improve the lives of working men and women throughout the Midwest and beyond for where the supply chain is spreading."

"It's important to get it (a deal) right for both sides, and I think they did. They did a good job," he said.

Lordstown is one of four GM plants scheduled to be completed by the end of 2020. The preliminary agreement saves only one, a plant in Detroit.

"It is with sadness that three of these four facilities with this agreement will close," said the federation's summary of the terms of the agreement.

Production activity in September fell to the lowest point in ten years. The rust belt states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, which Trump turned around, have all lost production jobs since June. Many of these jobs have moved overseas. Over the past decade, GM has moved jobs and product lines to Mexico due to lower production costs.

"GM is committed to future investment and job growth in the state of Ohio," GM said in a statement. "Projects planned for the Mahoning Valley include the opportunity to bring battery cell production to the area, which will create about 1,000 production jobs."

But Trump has been specific about the Lordstown facility.

"I want jobs to live in the United States and want Lordstown (Ohio), in one of the best economies in our history, to open or sell to a company that will open it quickly!" Trump tweeted in March shortly before the facility closed.

He also called GM CEO Mary Barra to discuss Lordstown.

"Just talking to Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors about the Lordstown Ohio plant, I'm not happy it's closed when everything else in our country is BOOMING," Trump said in another tweet in March. "I asked her to sell it or do something fast. She blamed UAW Union – I don't care, I just want it open!"

Navarro pointed to the battery production plant as an encouraging sign, and the administration expects, "he said," GM will do its best to make Workhorse Group's plan to produce EV pickup trucks in the Lordstown plant as an imprint for a UAW- success story. "

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