Government

Ryan Presses Case for Lordstown to GM’s Barra

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan Wednesday expressed his “frustration and disappointment” to General Motors CEO Mary Barra with the manufacturer’s decision to discontinue production of the Chevrolet Cruze at its Lordstown Complex.

Before a news conference in Washington with several other members of the next Congress, Ryan, D-13 Ohio, spoke by phone with Barra, according to a news release from his office. Both were part of the continued political spotlight on Monday’s announcement by the automaker, locally and nationally.  

Bringing a new product to Lordstown is “my highest priority,” Ryan said, and he pledged to work with Barra and the Trump Administration to accomplish that goal.

Generations of northeast Ohioans have worked at this facility,” and GM’s announcement is “devastating to our community,” he said.

The congressman told Barra that the Mahoning Valley is  “rich in resources that can help GM stay in Lordstown,” including the Youngstown Business Incubator and the Tech Belt Energy Innovation Center.

“It doesn’t matter how many calls, letters, or meetings it will take, I am committed to finding a solution with GM, this administration, and Congress to keep our jobs in Lordstown and protect American workers,” Ryan said.

In response to a request for comment, a GM spokesman said he could not address the details of the conversation between Ryan and Barra, but reiterate that GM remains committed to keeping “a strong manufacturing presence” in the United States and Ohio. GM’s announcements Monday focus on “our ability to invest for future growth and position the company for long-term success and maintain and grow American jobs,” he added.

Many of the U.S. workers impacted by these actions — including those in Lordstown — will have the opportunity to shift to other GM plants where we will need more employees to support growth in trucks, crossovers and SUVs. GM’s transformation also includes adding technical and engineering jobs to support the future of mobility, such as new jobs in electrification and autonomous vehicles,” the spokesman continued.

Following his call with Barra, Ryan joined U.S. Reps. Marcy Kaptur, D-9 Ohio; Brenda Lawrence, D-14 Mich.; Debbie Dingell, D-12 Mich.; and Sander Levin, D-9 Mich.; and incoming Rep. Andy Levin, D-9 Mich., for a news conference in Washington. The elected officials discussed the impact of GM’s decision in their communities and urged President Donald Trump to keep his promise and save American manufacturing jobs.

Meanwhile, the three members of the Mahoning County Board of Commissioners suggested joining with their counterparts in Trumbull and Columbiana counties to urge President Trump to come to the Mahoning Valley.

Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti said commissioners in all three counties should get together for a roundtable and to pass resolutions to send to GM headquarters in Detroit. “Let’s be proactive on what we can do,” she said Wednesday.
 
The decision to discontinue Cruze production is “a travesty,” said Mahoning County Commissioner David Ditzler. He recalled buying a series of vehicles manufactured at the plant, including his first car, a Chevrolet Vega, then a Chevette and a ’69 Pontiac Firebird.
 
“It’s really a difficult pill to swallow, and it’s tough because the union has worked with General Motors for several contracts to make sure they met the production number,” Ditzler noted. “They worked with them on the international level for reducing costs and wages.”
 
“Every contract was concessionary,” added Commissioner Anthony Traficanti, who also praised the plant’s productivity.
 
Traficanti noted that while other plants are considered closed, Lordstown was given the “unallocated” status, which gives the plant “somewhat of a glimmer of hope to get another product.” He said Trump already has had “strong words” for GM CEO Barra. “I suggest we follow up on that and ask the president to come and meet with us,” he said.   
 
U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, during an appearance on Fox Business, also criticized GM’s decision. “You know the American taxpayers bailed out General Motors before I ever came to Congress. And now this is the payback that the American taxpayers get? And I think that’s one reason the President is so upset at this decision,” he said.
 
Johnson said during his appearance that has  sent a letter to the leadership of 11 domestic and global auto manufacturers, promoting the Lordstown plant and its workers as an opportunity for another manufacturer.
 
“Someone is going to look at that facility and look at that workforce in Lordstown, outside Youngstown, and they are going to see the value in putting a product line in there. That’s why I sent that letter,” he said. “If GM doesn’t want [this site], by golly we’ve got an opportunity to put somebody else in there that values the workforce that’s there.”
 
Youngstown Mayor Tito Brown said he was scheduled to appear today on CNN to discuss the Lordstown situation but his appearance was cancelled as coverage shifted to anothere guilty plea by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen.

COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE:
GM to Close Lordstown Plant In March
Inside Union Hall, GM Announcement ‘A shot in the Gut’
Amid GM Fallout, Leaders Focus on Next Steps
Workers Face Uncertainty After GM Decision
Chevy Dealers Not Surprised by Cruze Cancellation
Brown Calls GM Decision ‘Corporate Greed’
Ryan on Plant Closing: ‘New Black Monday’
Read Full Text of GM Closings Announcement
Ryan Wants Congressional Hearing on GM Tax Windfall
Contract Talks Will Decide Plants Fate, UAW Says
Portman Warns Trump Against Retaliation; Strategy Planning Begins
Youngstown Leaders Consider a Future with or without GM
Brown to Speak with Trump Regarding GM
Prayer Vigil Today, Planning Tomorrow to Support Plant
Ryan Presses Case for Lordstown to GM’s Barra

WATCH VIDEO:
Leaders React to Lordstown Closing
‘3 Minutes With’ Greg Greenwood, Chevrolet dealer
‘3 Minutes With’ Dave Green, UAW Local 1112 president

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.