Ryan suggests state program to GM for coming layoffs


Staff report

LORDSTOWN

Updated letter to GM

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U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, urged General Motors to consider ShareWork Ohio, a unique layoff aversion program offered by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS) for employees impacted by the recently announced layoff of the second shift at GM Lordstown.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan sent a letter to General Motors on Tuesday asking the company to consider a state layoff aversion program at its Lords-town complex.

Ryan of Howland, D-13th, urged the company to consider SharedWork Ohio offered by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services for employees impacted by the recently announced elimination of the second shift at GM Lords-town.

The layoffs from the shift elimination will happen in mid-June and 1,500 employees will be affected, but a special attrition program offered by the company could mitigate that number.

In the letter sent to GM Chairwoman and CEO Mary Barra, Ryan discusses SharedWork Ohio’s “outside-the-box” approach to retaining employees until demand can return to the industry market. It allows workers to remain employed and employers to retain trained staff during times of reduced business activity.

In a SharedWork Ohio plan, a participating employer reduces affected employees’ hours in a uniform manner, and the participating employee works the reduced hours each week. The state department then provides eligible employees an unemployment insurance benefit proportionate to their reduced hours, according to the ODJFS website.

GM said it’s eliminating the second shift to align slowing demand of the plant’s product, the Chevrolet Cruze, with supply. The compact car had 11-consecutive months of sales declines as of March.

“I’m sure this was a very difficult decision, one that will deeply impact the lives of workers, their families and our communities,” Ryan wrote about the layoffs. “In addition to the workers at the Lordstown complex, the domino effect to Tier I and Tier II suppliers will have far-reaching implications. However, this could be significantly mitigated with a unique layoff aversion program offered by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services called SharedWork Ohio.”

Ryan said in the letter he is “ready to assist” the company.

“If GM believes the market will rebound, it would be in GM’s best interest to retain a highly trained workforce,” Ryan wrote.

Last week, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Cleveland, also wrote a letter to Barra, but he demanded answers from the company about the layoffs.

Brown noted GM’s “all-time record” revenues reported in its 2016 filings with the Security and Exchange Commission. Brown also mentioned the corporate tax cut legislation, which reduced the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent, and how that could benefit GM Lordstown.

At the end of his letter, Brown asked GM 11 questions to find out what the company has planned for the future of GM Lords-town.

Brown’s office told The Vindicator on Tuesday the company has yet to respond to the questions.

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