General Motors announces job cuts and plant closures

General Motors
General Motors announced Monday that it would shutter as many as five auto manufacturing plants in North America — four in the United States — and cut thousands of jobs across the company.

GM said it would not assign products in 2019 to auto assembly plants in Detroit-Hamtramck, Mich.; Lordstown, Ohio; and Oshawa, Ontario, and propulsion plants in Warren, Mich., and White Marsh, Md.

Those five plants assemble and produce parts for several Chevrolet, Cadillac and Buick vehicles that GM said would be discontinued within the next two years. As many as 5,901 hourly and 804 salaried workers could lose their jobs if GM does not allocate a new product to the plants.

The Associated Press reported that GM will cut almost 15,000 hourly and salaried jobs in North America. News channel WFMJ, the NBC affiliate station in Lordstown reported that employees were told the plant will close in March.

Reuters, meanwhile, reported that Canadian auto worker union Unifor said Sunday it was told by GM that there would be no product allocated to the Oshawa plant in 2020.

GM also said it would cut the company's corporate workforce by 15 percent and slash 25 percent of executive positions in an effort to save $6 billion in costs and capital expenditures by the end of 2020. The company offered buyouts to 50,000 salaried employees in October and aimed to reduce its corporate workforce by 18,000 jobs, according to Reuters.

“The actions we are taking today continue our transformation to be highly agile, resilient and profitable, while giving us the flexibility to invest in the future,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “We recognize the need to stay in front of changing market conditions and customer preferences to position our company for long-term success.”

GM’s announcement is the latest blow to the battered North American auto industry. Automakers including GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler have made significant cuts to their U.S. and Canadian workforces, citing rising costs due to President Trump’s tariffs and long-term declines in sales.
GM said it plans to shift focus to autonomous and electric vehicles and pull back from less popular sedans by discontinuing the Chevrolet Volt, Cruze, Impala, the Buick LaCrosse, the Cadillac CT6 and XTS sedans in 2019. Those cuts come as SUVs and trucks make up a growing share of U.S. automaker sales, which have declined on whole for several years.

Elected officials in Ohio and Michigan blasted GM after the announcement, accusing the company of betraying workers after reaping billions of dollars in bailout funds in 2009-10 and tax breaks through the 2017 tax-cut law.

“The workers at Lordstown are the best at what they do, and it’s clear once again that GM doesn’t respect them,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) in a statement. “Ohio taxpayers rescued GM, and it’s shameful that the company is now abandoning the Mahoning Valley and laying off workers right before the holidays.”

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said he was “deeply frustrated” by GM’s decision and has pushed Barra to assign a new product to the Lordstown plant.

“For decades, workers in the Mahoning Valley have made a commitment to GM, and today GM let Northeast Ohio down,” Portman said in a statement.

The cutbacks reflect the growing price pressures on U.S. automakers due to Trump’s tariffs on imported aluminum and steel. GM previously said the tariffs could cost the company up to $1 billion.

Trump has pledged for years to revive the U.S. auto industry, arguing that car manufacturing jobs have been streaming back to the Midwest since his election. But the mounting costs of tariffs have hindered American firms from gaining ground on foreign competitors.

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), whose district includes the Lordstown plant, called the move a “bad combination of greedy corporations and policy makers with no understanding of economic development.”

“Corporations like General Motors and the President himself are the only ones benefiting from this economy—an economy rigged against workers who are playing by the rules but still not getting ahead,” Ryan said.

Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), who represents parts of the Detroit suburbs, called on Congress to “work together on bipartisan policies that keep manufacturing jobs in this country, develops clean energy, and supports infrastructure to transform our mobility future."

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