Ohio senators demand answers from GM CEO Mary Barra


By Jordyn Grzelewski

jgrzelewski@vindy.com

LORDSTOWN

As part of their ongoing efforts to save the General Motors Lordstown assembly plant, U.S. Sens. Rob Portman, R-Cincinnati, and Sherrod Brown, D-Cleveland, on Tuesday sent a letter to GM CEO Mary Barra asking her to answer questions about the future of the plant.

The senators set a Dec. 21 deadline for her to respond.

GM recently announced a restructuring plan that includes idling five North American plants; the Lordstown plant is among them. GM also announced it will stop producing the Lordstown-built Chevrolet Cruze on March 1.

Both senators, as well as other elected officials representing the Valley, have long been urging GM to reinvest in the Lordstown plant. Before the announcement of the plant shutdown, GM laid off two out of three shifts of workers due to slow Cruze sales.

Portman and Brown’s joint letter, which follows a meeting they had with Barra last week, notes they are “deeply disappointed in GM’s announcement to discontinue vehicle production at the plant.”

The letter also notes GM’s increase in Mexico-based production and asks Barra “to consider Lordstown as an alternative assembly facility for vehicles intended for U.S. consumers.”

“As GM continues to evaluate the company’s next steps with respect to the Lordstown plant, it is critical that the workers and communities affected by any company decisions understand the short- and long-term implications of the announcement and its full impact,” Portman and Brown wrote. “Only with complete information can the Mahoning Valley – as well as the numerous Ohio businesses and communities who stand to lose jobs and investment as part of the Lordstown closure – effectively respond to, and recover from, changes to production at Lordstown.”

They included a list of 14 questions they wish Barra to answer by Dec. 21 regarding the current status of the plant, job and supply-chain impacts of the plant idling and the future of GM Lordstown.

Some of those questions are:

Given the high rankings earned by Lordstown, what factors – other than poor sales of the Chevy Cruze – contributed to GM’s decision to unallocate this facility in particular?

Given that GM made the decision to unallocate Lordstown unilaterally, why has GM suggested – which you reinforced in our meeting – that GM cannot unilaterally reverse this decision?

In our meeting, you agreed to keep us up to date on Lordstown’s status. Will you commit to communicating openly to Lordstown employees, the Cruze supply chain companies, and the affected communities about the future of the plant throughout the unallocation process?

What would be the cost, if any, of retooling the plant to produce an electric vehicle of comparable size to the Chevy Cruze?

Will you commit to producing in the United States all of GM’s electric vehicles for sale in the United States?

In other Lordstown-related news, Eastern Gateway Community College plans to offer free programs to workers impacted, either directly or indirectly, by the plant shutdown. Details of the program will be released at a news conference Friday.

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