UAW keeps fighting for GM-Lordstown

June 22 was not a bright summer day for many area workers. It was the final day of the second shift at General Motors Lordstown Complex, Magna Seating, Jamestown Industries, Leadec Industrial Services and other suppliers associated with the complex.

Through no fault of their own, about 1,500 United Auto Workers Local 1112 members hit the street on an indefinite layoff. If it hasn’t yet, the trickle-down effect will soon hit many more workers in other supplier plants, retail stores, real estate, restaurants, etc. For every GM worker, up to seven other workers in our area depend on GM-Lordstown for their livlihood.

The last time we were in this situation was during the dark days of the GM bankruptcy in 2009, but over the last nine years, GM made a tremendous recovery, making more profit than ever. In 2010, the first D1 model of the Chevy Cruze was launched and GM officials and auto analysts credited the Lordstown union-built Cruze with greatly helping to restore GM to profitability and assuring the car-buying public that GM was back and assembling a high-quality small car.

Over the last several months, many editorials and columns have appeared in area newspapers concerning GM-Lordstown’s future, and the apparent lack of a commitment from GM in Detroit to promise the complex will remain a major part of the Valley’s manufacturing base. The sales trend towards pickups and SUVs has hit the Cruze like a ton of bricks, despite the fact that the recent JD Power report gave the Cruze high marks, rating it the second best car in its segment. The GM Lordstown Complex, as a whole, was rated by JD Power as GM’s best plant in the United States, Canada and Mexico and sixth overall out of all vehicle manufacturers both foreign and domestic. This is a great testament to our workforce who have worked hard over the last 52 years building millions of vehicles and making billions of dollars for GM while paying tens of millions in taxes to our economy and contributing so much to local charities that Local 1112 members are the difference, whether they have a successful campaign or not.

About a year from now, national contract talks will begin in Detroit between the UAW and GM. Whatever plans the corporation has for GM-Lordstown will likely be a major part of those negotiations. My experience as a GM worker for many years leads me to believe it’s highly unlikely that GM will publicly commit to anything concerning the future in Lordstown until those negotiations are concluded.

In the meantime, we greatly appreciate the Valley’s support and the continuous need to highlight the importance of GM-Lordstown to not only the economic well-being of our area, but the entire state of Ohio. There are also thousands of jobs outside of the Valley that are connected to the complex.

Over the last five decades we have survived many hard times. The union-management wars of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the recession years of the early 1980s, the closing of the van plant in the early1990s and of course, the GM bankruptcy and economic collapse in late 2008.

Local 1112 members are ready and willing to do their jobs and want GM-Lordstown to prosper for many more years. All we want is the chance.

Tim O’Hara is vice president of United Auto Workers Local 1112 for General Motors Lordstown complex.