No place like home? GM Lordstown asks its workers
By Burton Speakman
General Motors has targeted a survey to some of its employees to learn how many want to transfer closer to their previous home plant.
Glenn Johnson, president of United Auto Workers Local 1112 in Lordstown, estimated that between 250 and 300 employees at the local plant might be interested in relocating closer to home.
The Lordstown plant began receiving transfers during the economic downturn in 2008 and 2009, said Dave Green, president of UAW Local 1714 in Lordstown.
“A lot of these people had been laid off for some time. Their options were to transfer here or to lose their benefits,” he said.
The Lordstown plant has a number of employees who spend their free time driving back to Michigan or the East Coast to be with their families, Johnson said.
“It’s hard on people to be that far from family and the costs are astronomical. Some of these guys are paying to support two households,” he said.
There is one member of 1714 who transferred to Lordstown from Alabama, Green said.
“He’s hundreds of miles from his family. He’s excited about the chance to transfer back,” he said.
Green added that it’s difficult to try to guess how many employees might be interested in moving to another plant.
“A number of people transferred here planning to go home at some point but decided they liked it here and bought a home,” he said.
Many hope the company will decide to allow those who indicate they would like to transfer to do so, Green said.
The decision by GM has the ability to affect hundreds, including those who would leave the Lordstown facility and those who would be hired full-time to take their place, he said.
“We want people to be happy and have the opportunity to be more productive by being where they want to be,” Green said.
Any positions that open by a transfer would be filled by current temporary plant workers, Johnson said.
Employees have until July 17 to submit the survey application, Green said.
The company will let the unions know sometime after how many, if any, employees will be able to transfer, Johnson said.
Companywide, GM relocated 6,500 employees from their home plants, according to a letter from Joe Ashton, UAW vice president, and Cathy Clegg, vice president of GM labor relations. “While we know that providing this survey of interest will not potentially remedy every situation, it does allow us to understand the extent of current relocation concerns,” according to the letter.
Union members who GM believes would be interested in transferring will be mailed the survey. For those who do not receive the form and think they should the survey can be found online at http://www.uaw1714.com/mediapage/downloads/category/44-special-relocation-process-survey.