THE VINDICATOR, YOUNGSTOWN
More engineering work would be needed if renovation plans are changed at the GM plant.
By DON SHILLING
VINDICATOR BUSINESS EDITOR
LORDSTOWN -- Officials are considering revising the construction plans for the proposed $500 million renovation of General Motors' Lordstown Assembly Plant, a union official said.
A new plan may be needed because United Auto Workers officials in Detroit have balked at a proposal to move some work out of the plant, said John Mohan, shop chairman for UAW Local 1112 in Lordstown.
He said it would be difficult to complete the renovation without moving the work, but options are being considered.
Original plan: GM had proposed moving the motor and wheel rooms, which employ about 190 people, to provide the space needed to reconfigure the plant while maintaining production. Local union officials had hoped to bring the work back to the plant at some later point.
UAW officials in Detroit disrupted those plans three weeks ago when it said it reached an agreement with GM to suspend any more discussion of moving work out of the plant, Mohan said.
He said he thought the Detroit union officials were frustrated that GM continued to move work out of the plant without committing to its long-term future. Union officials say they are waiting for the GM board of directors to approve the renovation and new product for the plant.
Since the UAW objection, local union officials have been looking at what would have to be done if the motor and wheel rooms aren't moved, Mohan said.
Still under discussion: GM and union officials in Detroit are continuing to discuss the outsourcing of jobs to suppliers, so it isn't clear whether the motor and wheel rooms will be moved, he said. Tom Mock, a plant spokesman, could not be reached this morning.
Keeping the engine work in the plant would be a major change because the type of engine being proposed would require a new production method, he said. New equipment would have to be installed in the plant, which would require more engineering work, he said.
As the outsourcing of work is discussed in Detroit, two Michigan-based suppliers continue to prepare their local plants, he said.
Android Industries and Oakley Industries both have received local tax abatements. Android is renovating an industrial plant in Vienna Township. It intends to take engines shipped from another plant and add related parts before the engine is installed into cars.
Oakley is building a new plant in Lordstown. It intends to prepare tires that would be installed on cars.
As this issue remains unsettled, the local GM plant is hiring 95 workers because of other work that has been taken out of the plant recently.
The union's national labor contract calls for GM to replace every job that is lost because of outsourcing within 90 days. These replacements will be 89 production workers and six skilled-trades workers.
Mohan said the work moved out has been smaller jobs, but he couldn't immediately recall what they were.
The plant also will be hiring 30 workers to replace those who have retired, Mohan said. GM is required by contract to hire one worker for every three who retire.
Fewer workers: The plant has about 4,300 hourly workers, about 1,000 fewer than it had two years ago. The plant has been hiring people periodically as workers retire. It has had 277 workers retire this year.
The new hires come from a pool of candidates who were nominated by workers.