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The last Chevy Cobalt rolled off the line in Lordstown



Published: Wed, June 23, 2010 @ 12:01 a.m.
  Last Lordstown Cobalt

The end of the line has come for the Chevy Cobalt at GM Lordstown.

The end of the line has come for the Chevy Cobalt at GM Lordstown.

photo

Chuck Mitchell of Salem, a 40-year GM employee, works on the Chevrolet Cobalt assembly line at the Lordstown plant Tuesday. The complex will launch the Chevrolet Cruze next month.

By GRACE WYLER

gwyler@vindy.com

LORDSTOWN

When the final Chevrolet Cobalt rolls off the line this morning, the General Motors complex here will close an important chapter in the plant’s — and the Mahoning Valley’s — history.

“It is a car that has served its purpose,” said Ben Strickland, shop chairman for United Auto Workers Local 1112, which represents Lordstown’s assembly plant. “It has been a good car for Lordstown and it will be a car well-missed.”

The Lordstown complex, which will launch the eagerly awaited Chevrolet Cruze next month, is at the forefront of the new GM as a result of the Cobalt, union officials and plant managers said Tuesday, reflecting on the car’s six-year run.

“We are the cornerstone of GM going into the future,” said Local 1112 president Jim Graham. “That plant, our product, are the future of General Motors.”

The Cobalt — and the plant’s fight to secure it — has ensured the survival of the Lordstown complex and, by extension, the Mahoning Valley, Graham said.

“We know how to survive at Lordstown,” Graham said. “Our people recognize the importance of holding on to a product, not just for ourselves but for the entire Valley.”

When GM announced the end of the Cavalier, people across the country, and in Detroit, thought Lordstown would close, Graham said, because of the plant’s history of strained — and often hostile — relations between the local unions and the plant management.

But union leaders and plant managers had already begun to recognize their mutual interests, Graham said.

“Somewhere between the Vega and the Cavalier, we had an epiphany,” he said. “If you don’t have a car, you don’t have a union, you don’t have a Lordstown, the Valley implodes.”

So when the time came to fight for the Cobalt in 2001, the plant, with the support of the community, was able to rally around its shared future.

“We proved a lot of people wrong when they announced the Cobalt would be built here,” Graham said. “We became Lordstown — not management, not union, but Lordstown, Ohio.”

To ensure GM’s continued investment, the Lordstown unions accepted a host of concessions in a 2001 “shelf agreement.”

“We took concessions when other plants didn’t know what the word concession meant,” Graham said. “We knew we had to take them or we wouldn’t get the Cobalt.”

While local politicians, businesses and schools pulled for Lordstown with the “Bring it Home” campaign, the workers had to come up with creative ways to secure the Cobalt, said shop chairman Strickland.

“There was a lot of community effort, but the nuts and bolts start here [at the plant],” Strickland said. “There has been a lot of legwork. It’s taken all of us as whole to make this happen.”

By agreeing to take concessions and make changes over the past decade, Lordstown’s union membership has been at the forefront of the plant’s success, said David Green, president of United Auto Workers Local 1714, which represents the fabrication plant.

The culture on the plant floor has changed during the Cobalt’s run as communication and respect between the union and management has continued to improve, he said.

The changes Lordstown has made have put the plant “ahead of the curve,” and have been crucial to the plant’s success, Green said.

“The Cobalt has meant sustainability and longevity,” Green said. “For the Valley, it has meant the transformation from what it once was to what it will be.”


Comments

1UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

I wish the Cruze success. The valley needs all the good pay & benefit jobs it can get in this economy. Way to go UAW !

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2Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

"“It is a car that has served its purpose,”

After the Chevrolet Cruze they will be re-tooling for the Barack Bicyle . With the optional sail you can harvest wind power .

http://laughingsquid.com/wp-content/u...

BARACK SEZ, THESE ARE COOL !

http://image3.examiner.com/images/blo...

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3oldstown(198 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Good riddance to bad rubbish. As for the Chevy Celia Cruze...surefire FLOP!

GM = Garbage Machines

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4Valleys_Voice(149 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

@oldstown,
your probably a teenager who grew up in a priveledged home with parents that made good money so you wouldn't know the value of a hard earned dollar. The Valley needs GM and everything it offers, especially security to its employees and their families. Don't underestimate the value GM has to offer not only to our community, but our nation.

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5snyder(13 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

VALLEYS-VOICE---YOU ARE RIGHT THE VALLEY NEEDS THE JOBS- BUT GOD FOR BID YOU GET A CAR PRODUCED ON MONDAY OR FRIDAY- CONSIDERING WHAT SOME EMPLOYESS HAVE BEEN CAUGHT DOING AT LUNCH- EVERYBODY HAS THEIR OPINION- THERE ARE GOOD AND BAD THINGS WITH ALL VEHICLE MANUFACTURERS

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6Hevrgo2409(2 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

The Chevrolet Cruze has already been marketed in Korea and Russia where it has been very, very successful. It's a subcompact with a midsize car price and ride. The MPG is outstanding and there is a host of options available on it including navigation. The body is tighter because the body shop which has built the small cars at Lordstown for many years has been totally replaced. I suggest anyone who doubts this car, TEST DRIVE ONE! The Cruze is a winner!

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