Lordstown workers await more information on GM's expansion announcement today


LORDSTOWN

Local union leaders are always hopeful investment will come to the General Motors Lordstown Assembly Plant.

“There’s a couple of projects that would require funding for us and we would be happy to take advantage of that,” said Glenn Johnson, president of United Auto Workers Local 1112 at GM Lordstown. “I’ve always said that if GM is willing to continue to invest here, we will take it and make the best of it.”

Today, GM announced it would invest $1 billion into U.S. manufacturing operations, creating 7,000 U.S. jobs. But the automaker didn’t specify where the investments will go, only that the investments will “cover multiple new vehicle, advanced technology and component projects” and they will be announced throughout the year.

The announcement comes the same week the third shift will end at the Lordstown plant because of consumers buying more sport utility vehicles than small cars, such as the Chevrolet Cruze built at the plant. The loss of the third shift will cost about 1,200 hourly jobs. With a total of 4,500 jobs, the Lordstown plant is Mahoning and Trumbull counties’ largest employer.

Johnson, who represents 3,000 assembly workers, and UAW Local 1714 President Robert Morales, who represents 1,400 fabrication plant workers, say the plant is focused on reaching the benchmarks GM wants.

The plant also is prepared for a possible market shift back to small cars, but analysts see no end in sight for the SUV trend.

“We are prepared for the market to change and, if it changes, we will be ready for it,” Morales said.

GM also announced today it will begin work on bringing back axle production to the U.S. for its next-generation full-size pickup trucks. This brings work previously done in Mexico back to Michigan, creating 450 U.S. jobs. The automaker has worked to create supplier centers – also known as industrial parks – near its U.S. plants including Lordstown.

In 2014, NorthPoint Development purchased 173.5 acres of vacant industrial land adjacent to GM Lordstown. The park, known as the Lordstown Logistics Center, was to house GM suppliers and possibly other distributors. NorthPoint couldn’t be reached for comment on what stage of development the Lordstown park is in.

Read more about the situation in Wednesday's Vindicator or on Vindy.com.

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