Government

Ryan to Meet GM’s Barra, Seeks Help from Trump

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan will meet Wednesday with General Motors CEO Mary Barra, the congressman’s office confirmed today.

Barra also is scheduled to meet with Ohio’s U.S. senators, Democrat Sherrod Brown and Republican Rob Portman, tomorrow.

GM announced last week that it would close its Lordstown Complex, where the Chevrolet Cruze is manufactured, and four other North American plants. The closings would idle more than 14,000 GM workers including 1,600 workers at the Lordstown plant, as well as workers at companies that supply the plant.

A Ryan spokesman could not immediately confirm whether Ryan was meeting with Barra separate from her meeting with the two senators or as a participant in their meeting.

GM stated last week that production of the Cruze would end March 1, and that a new product had not been allocated for the Lordstown plant.

I look forward to having a productive conversation with GM CEO Mary Barra tomorrow. I’ve heard first-hand from many people in northeast Ohio how detrimental GM’s announcement has been to them. It’s not just impacting jobs, but the entire community,” Ryan, D-13 Ohio, said in a news release.  “It’s my hope that Mary Barra and I can find a path forward, bring a new product to the Lordstown plant, and keep these jobs in the Mahoning Valley.

Local elected officials, plant union leaders and the business community are urging GM to reconsider its decision or to allocate a new product for the plant. Ryan, in addition to urging a comprehensive effort to come up with a “workable solution” to GM’s proposed layoffs, renewed calls for a national manufacturing policy.

Ryan’s office reported this morning that he has written President Donald Trump, stating that Trump’s threat to eliminate federal subsidies for electric cars could harm efforts to secure a new product for the Lordstown plant. GM has announced plans to introduce 20 electric vehicle models in the next five years.

Cutting the electric subsidies isn’t a solution and might backfire, “making it even harder to land a new vehicle at the Lordstown plant,” Ryan said. He also reminded Trump of his pledge in Youngstown last year to bring jobs back to the Mahoning Valley.

Last week, Portman also expressed concern about giving Chinese companies, which already have about half of the electric vehicle market, a greater competitive advantage. “I want to encourage innovation over here,” he said.

Ryan’s letter can be read here.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.