By danny restivo
A worker at General Motors’ Lordstown assembly plant will speak tonight at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
“It’s definitely an honor and a privilege,” said Karen Pantone-Eusanio, community-services chairwoman of United Auto Workers Local 1112. The Hubbard native said she is representing the autoworkers in the Mahoning Valley during a two-minute speech set sometime between 9 and 9:30 p.m.
Pantone-Eusanio, 43, has worked at the Lordstown complex for 17 years. She serves as a team leader at the assembly plant for the Chevrolet Cruze. She was selected to speak about being an autoworker at GM’s Lordstown factory.
The decision came nearly three weeks ago after members of President Barack Obama’s administration came to her home and interviewed the single mother of three in July. She said it was Obama’s auto bailout that allowed her to keep providing for her family.
“As a single parent with three kids, just like anyone else, I would have had no way to pay for the mortgage or support my children,” she said. “It [the bailout] saved me and my kids.”
Pantone-Eusanio points to GM’s recent $200 million investment in the next-generation Chevrolet Cruze as a sign of the president’s success.
“Without his initial support, the auto industry wouldn’t have progressed this far,” she said. “This investment has allowed me to plan for the future.”
Anna Biggins of McDonald retired 11 years ago after spending 29 years in the auto industry. The 78-year-old UAW representative will be at the convention when Pantone-Eusanio gives her speech. She said the moment will allow the rest of the world to hear why the auto industry is important to the Youngstown area and the rest of the country.
“We need manufacturing in this country,” she said. “We certainly don’t want to see the auto industry leave the Valley.”
Pantone-Eusanio didn’t want to reveal her speech before she takes the stage tonight.
She did say, however, she wants to represent her fellow workers proudly without looking phony.
“We will see how well I do when I get up there,” she said. “I know I won’t say anything I don’t believe in.”