UAW, Valley Message to GM: We’re ‘True Blue’ Loyal
LORDSTOWN, Ohio – The president of the union representing workers at the General Motors Lordstown Complex says workers remain optimistic about securing another product, even as most of them prepare to exit the plant for the last time Wednesday, two days earlier than expected.
Shortly after a news conference at the United Auto Workers Local 1112 hall Monday afternoon, GM spokeswoman Cheryl McCarron confirmed that production at the Lordstown plant would end March 6. For months, the anticipated final day at the plant had been Friday.
During the press event, UAW Local 1112 President Dave Green called on the community to show their true colors – specifically one color, blue – in support of workers at the plant, where the Chevrolet Cruze is built.
True Blue Friday, which aims to call GM’s attention to the “true blue” loyalty of plant workers and the Mahoning Valley, is just one of the events planned for this week as production winds down at the plant.
“I want to let everybody know that we do remain optimistic,” Green said. “We want GM to know that we’re continuing to stay true blue here. For over 50 years we’ve been part of their family and built their cars. We want them to recognize that this is the best place in the world for them to invest for the next 53 years and the future products that they build.”
Approximately 1,400 workers remain at the plant, he reported. The final Cruze rolled through the body shop Friday and is expected to be completed tomorrow.
“It’s going to be a very emotional day for our members when they see that last car go by, but make no mistake: that last car’s going to be built just as well as the first one was built,” he said.
The union leader also expressed confidence in the UAW International’s leadership, which will negotiate a new contract with GM later this year.
“Our fate is ultimately going to be decided at the bargaining table,” he said. The union is challenging in court four of the five announced GM plant closings as violations of its current contract.
When the union was preparing to go into contract negotiations, representatives were looking at pension, health care and wages, said Michael Aurillo, Local 1112 recording secretary. “Now you’ve got to argue to save the plant,” he said.
Green emphasized — amid speculation by elected officials and others that the Lordstown property is not for sale, — that the focus now is on encouraging GM to make a commitment to the plant.
On Friday, Drive It Home Ohio – the lobbying and community support campaign launched by Local 1112 and the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber – is asking people to wear blue, take photos of themselves with their GM cars and send those photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The campaign will send those photos to Mary Barra, GM’s CEO, and the company.
Churches are asked to ring their bells at 3 p.m. – the end of the final shift at the plant – to show their support for plant workers.
Today, Lordstown educators and administrators are inviting Valley residents to participate in a “True Blue” group photo at Lordstown High School at 3 p.m. In addition to wearing blue, they’re asked to drive a GM car or truck to the event. Participants will include Drive it Home Ohio co-chairmen Green and James Dignan, president/CEO of the Regional Chamber; Lordstown Schools superintendent Terry Armstrong and district teacher Alyssa Brookbank.
On Wednesday, the campaign is calling on the community to stand at 2:30 p.m. with Werner Lange, who has conducted a daily vigil at Bailey Road and Hallock-Young Road during shift change.
On March 11, the first day the plant will be on unallocated status, about 200 workers will remain for an undefined period to produce replacement or service parts, although Green said he could not be certain how long.
“The corporation has an obligation to provide customers with so many service parts, so we’ll be in there building those for a few weeks,” he said. He could not say how many workers might be kept to maintain the plant long term.
“The stamping plant will still have limited production to fill service and aftermarket requirements,” said GM’s spokeswoman. “In addition, there will be limited staffing needed to maintain the facility going forward.”
Though she declined to provide specific numbers, she said the manpower numbers would be “limited.”
About 90% of the plant’s workers are “scared” because they “don’t know what’s out there,” Aurillo said. Some are taking care of elderly parents or children with developmental disabilities, and are concerned about relocating them.
Since the Nov. 26 announcement of the plant closing, 411 workers have transferred to other GM plants or signed up for transfer, Green reported.
Pictured: UAW Local 1112 financial secretary Rick Smith, President Dave Green and recording secretary Michael Aurillo are urging the Mahoning Valley to wear blue Friday as a show of support for the GM Lordstown Complex.
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