GM's CEO Won't Commit to Keeping Lordstown Open

GM’s CEO Won’t Commit to Keeping Lordstown Open

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – General Motors CEO Mary Barra said it would be too expensive to retool the GM Lordstown Complex to manufacture the Chevrolet Blazer, and she would not commit to maintaining production at the Lordstown plant, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown said this morning.

GM announced plans June 22 to build its rebooted Blazer in Mexico. The news came as the second shift ended at Lordstown, which manufactures the Cruze.

The Blazer will be manufactured at the Ramos Arizpe plant in Mexico, which also builds the Cruze for international markets.

Brown, D-Ohio, said he spoke with Barra following the news reports and asked her to maintain the remaining single shift at the plant here. He met with reporters today following a tour of Vallourec Star and a meeting with plant employees.

“She would not commit that they will keep that plant open,” Brown said. “She said it depends on productivity and the Chevy Cruze.”

Further, she said retooling the Lordstown plant to produce the Blazer “seemed too expensive,” Brown added.

“We are going to keep the pressure on.”

In reporting its second-quarter sales, GM said today that the Chevrolet Cruze suffered a 26.2% fall in sales as 37,836 were purchased during the last three months.

GM Lordstown spokesman Tom Mock declined to comment on specifics of the discussion between Brown and Barra.

“It was a private discussion and we don’t offer details on those discussions,” he said.

Brown said he pointed out to Barra that GM received “tens of millions of dollars in tax cuts” by bringing money back from overseas, funds that were spent on buybacks for executives.

“I take a back seat to nobody in supporting the auto industry. Less than a decade ago, the taxpayers bailed out this company,” he said. “They seem to have forgotten that with their behavior lately.”

The Lordstown situation came up during a conversation Brown had with President Donald Trump over the weekend, he said. The senator said Trump “didn’t know a lot” about what happened with the Lordstown plant losing its second shift and the Blazer decision. Brown asked the president speak with Barra directly.

“He was noncommittal. I hope he weighs in,” the senator said.

On Monday, state Reps. John Boccieri, Glenn Holmes, Michele Lepore-Hagan and Michael O’Brien and state Sens. Joe Schiavoni and Sean O’Brien sent a letter to Barra, expressing their disappointment and concern in light of the recent layoffs of second shift employees at its Lordstown Assembly plant.

“We have people in our districts who want to go back to work and continue making a living for their families with pride and dignity. We hope GM will continue to invest in the Mahoning Valley, just as our state and our communities have invested in your company,” the lawmakers wrote.

“We urge you to reconsider your decision to reduce opportunities in Lordstown and throughout Ohio and instead utilize the current Lordstown location and collaborate with our creative and committed Valley workers to create a vision for the GM of tomorrow.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.