Economic Development

Lordstown UAW Leader Hopeful as Negotiations Begin

LORDSTOWN, Ohio – The president of United Auto Workers Local 1112 still holds out hope that General Motors Co. will reverse course and award a new product to its Lordstown Complex, an issue he thinks that will factor prominently as contract negotiations with the International begin tomorrow.

“The impression I get is that we’re not giving up and they’re fighting for a product in Lordstown,” Dave Green said. 

GM announced in November that it would place three assembly plants – its Lordstown, Detroit-Hamtramck and Oshawa, Ontario, complexes – on “unallocated” status, meaning it would cease production of the current vehicle manufactured there without awarding a new product to build.

The last vehicle at Lordstown – a white Chevrolet Cruze – rolled off the assembly line March 6. About 1,500 workers lost their jobs, adding to the 3,000 that were placed on layoff when GM cancelled the third and second shifts at the plant in late 2017 and July 2018, respectively.

About eight people are still working in the Lordstown plant, Green said, tending to maintenance issues. 

The fate of the Lordstown Complex and the other unallocated plants is a priority among negotiators, he said.  “I’m led to think that they’re at the top of the list,” along with other issues such as the use of temporary workers in GM plants. 

The existing collective bargaining agreement expires at 11:59 p.m. Sept. 14 and leadership is bracing for tough negotiations with not just with GM, but also Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automotive. 

An early signal is the International’s decision to increase strike pay to $250 per week from the previous $200. 

“It’s definitely going to be tough for everybody involved,” Green said.

About 1,500 Lordstown workers have received offers to transfer to other plants and approximately 500 have turned those offers down.

A thousand workers have left the company and have opted to attend school, enroll in retraining programs or have found another job. Another 500 others are awaiting word on transfers to other plants, including Green.

“They’ll send me a letter to transfer,” Green said. 

In the meantime, the Local 1112 president said that he would attend to issues arising with the union’s membership.  “There’s a lot of stress and anxiety. We want to help people cope with that.”

Meanwhile, officials are awaiting updates related to a possible purchase of the Lordstown facility by an investment group fronted by the founder of Workhorse, an electric vehicle manufacturer based in Cincinnati.  

“I haven’t heard anything specific,” Green said. “Our position is that GM needs to invest.  Regardless of what our fate is, I hope something goes in.  I don’t want to see that plant empty.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.