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Displaced workers anxious to start



Published: Tue, May 18, 2010 @ 12:01 a.m.
  GM Workers Transfer to Lordstown

Laid off autoworkers from around the country are transferring to GM's Lordstown plant to help build the new Chevrolet Cruze.

Laid off autoworkers from around the country are transferring to GM's Lordstown plant to help build the new Chevrolet Cruze.

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Angela Seay, 46, originally from Baltimore, Md., has been with GM since 1994, but this is her first time to have to move for the company. Transfer employees to the Lordstown plant will help make up the third shift needed to build the new Chevrolet Cruze.

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Thomas Nawrocki of Delaware, one of many GM employees transferring to General Motors Lordstown Complex from other closed GM facilities, talks about his hopes for the future during a break in an orientation session at United Auto Workers of America Local 1112 union hall in Lordstown. Nawrocki said Monday he plans to move his family to the area.

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Keith Fingerhut, left, a transfer employee to GM Lordstown from GM’s closed Wilmington, Del., facility, talks with Jim Graham, president of United Auto Workers of America Local 1112, during a break in an orientation session. Fingerhut said he is excited about being at Lordstown and building the Chevrolet Cruze.

Displaced workers anxious to start

By WILLIAM K. ALCORN

alcorn@vindy.com

LORDSTOWN

The displaced General Motors workers volunteered to come to GM Lordstown and work, and they are raring to get at it.

“I’m looking forward to getting on the job and getting my hands dirty,” said Keith Fingerhut, 47, who has worked 25 years for GM at three plants that closed in Tarrytown, N.Y.; Linden, N.J.; and most recently, in Wilmington, Del.

Fingerhut was among about 85 GM hourly employees who received a day of benefits orientation Monday at United Auto Workers of America Local 1112 and were scheduled today to tour the assembly plant where they will work.

Another group of volunteers will go through the same orientation Wednesday, and next week about 169 laid-off GM employees from Janesville, Wis., who were forced to come to Lordstown GM or lose their GM benefits, will go through the same process.

The assembly plant expects to have about 340 transfer workers, said Jim Graham, president of Local 1112.

The fabrication plant, represented by UAW Local 1714, expects to absorb about 114 transfer workers, said Dave Green, president of Local 1714 president.

“We sympathize with them. It’s tough when you have to leave your family behind. But at least they have a job, and a $28-an-hour job is a lot better than the unemployment line,” Graham said.

The transfers from the Delaware plant, with the four-day work weeks that are standard at GM Lordstown, can drive home more easily on their three-day weekends to visit family and friends than can transfers from Wisconsin.

That’s what Fingerhut, who has an apartment in Vienna, and Greg Cowchok, 45, of Newark, Del., have decided to do.

For Cowchok, coming to Lordstown was an easy choice. He has been laid off since December 2008, and his GM benefits would have expired in June.

“I love building cars. It makes you feel good building something for America and for Americans to go to work in,” he said.

Thomas Nawrocki, 38, of Bel Air, Md., however, has decided to make the Mahoning Valley home.

“It’s hard leaving family and friends, but Bel Air is only about five hours away. And, the cost of living is a lot better here,” he said.

“So far, so good,” said Angela Seay, 46, originally from Baltimore, who moved here May 7. Seay, who has been with GM since 1994, said this is her first time to have to move to stay with GM. She had been laid off from the Wilmington plant for 16 months.

The transfer employes, who will help make up the 1,200-member third shift needed to build the new Chevrolet Cruze, will go through an intense training period between now and the July launch of the new car, Graham said.

GM Lordstown is scheduled to start making the Cruze in July, ramp up production in August and have the new product to dealerships by mid-October, Graham said.

“The Cruze is ‘ground zero’ for GM’s future, and we’re more than ready. I’m confident the transfer employees will do well because they want to be here,” Graham said.

“I’m from a GM family,” Fingerhut said. “Give me a chance to get my 30 years-plus.”

“I’m totally excited about being here in Lordstown ... and the Cruze sounds like a winner. Give me a job, and I’ll learn it fast and then do it,” he said.


Comments

1edgardojo(1 comment)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Unemployment Survey! Voice your opinion today! Complete the survey and get paid http://bit.ly/aEiq7H

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2mikeymike(469 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Fair and equal give it a rest,your rants are getting old and zzzzzz.I'm looking forward to trading my Cobalt in for a Cruze.

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3mikeymike(469 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

fair and equal get a life already.What's your problem.

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4walter_sobchak(1982 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

mikeymike,
You should be able to see what is going on here. They are playing politics with people's livelihoods. Salaried employees of GM/Delphi are getting screwed. The UAW/IUE members are getting help as a payback for supporting Barack Hussein Obama in 2008. I would be pissed off too!

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5palbubba(671 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

For the majority of you and your Obama loving union leaders, how's that "CHANGE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN " working for you? Another one of lap dog Tim Ryans jobs for the valley victories. How do these transients benefit the valley?

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6SuperX(1 comment)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

"How do these transients benefit the valley?"

For starts how about $30.2 million in new money to the valley annually. $29x40hrsx52weeksx500people

Do you think this might help the local economy?

New money meaning money not recycled from the local economy but injected from external economies.

This means at least $302,000 to the community of Lordstown in annual revenue.

I'm pretty sure this will help.

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7valleytruth(3 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Fair and equal, where do I start?

Ok, point one, the jobs are not temporary. GM is placing and paying relocation for these workers to come here to build the Cruze. There are 600 temporary employees being brought in, but only to make sure that those (350 or so Transfers) coming the next two weeks, as well as the other 2400 in the plant, can take their vacations, and recieve proper training for the cruze build. That my friend, is a fact.
Secondly, I and many other people hope Delphi Salary Retirees issues are handled and you get something out of this mess. However, boycotting GM, and the Union for your predicament is not going to help things get settled. Many people worked hard to get Obama elected, and regardless of where you stand, GM (which includes hourly and salary jobs) would not be here if his administration did not step up and help out. GM is not entirely well yet, but they are on the road to recovery, which will help insure that pensions are stable, and that retiree healthcare funding obligations to the VEBA are met.
Did you work to get Obama elected, or are you one of those who thinks he is a socialist? Obviously you should not think that as you seem to indirectly be lobbying for a Delphi Salary Retiree bailout.

Also, just for the record, what was your job at Delphi? What were you responsible for? Id hate to find out that you were one of those Delphi Salaried Retirees who's job it was to hasten the move of your hourly employees jobs, as well as a few salaried ones,a little south of El Paso. Weren't those cuts a little "discriminatory" towards the hourly workers?

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8pundit58(2 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

While I agree the Delphi salary employees were done a great injustice, there are a few aspects of this paticular series of events that most people do not seem to recognize. The executives, engineers, and managers at all levels were the agents of their own demise; they worked tirelessly, constantly formulating methods to lower costs by finding ways to shift manufacturing to low wage countries thus reducing the North American workforce. Brazil, Mexico, China, and India benefitted while Delphi in this country languished and eventually was destroyed. The IUE and UAW were not blameless by any means, but when the downward spiral was realized they accepted many concessions at the bargaining table...too little too late. One important thing to consider is that Delphi salary had many oppotunities to organize with a union or form their own but they looked upon this option with disdain as they always considered unions as some sort of enemy, not co-workers (a step above, if you will). One must wonder had the salary workers been unionized and blessed with a little foresight, they may have questioned the job security being sacrificed with the choice of profits over the preservation of good paying AMERICAN jobs. Had they only said; hey, wait a minute, what are we doing here?

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