GM should rethink plans for Mexico

General Motors’ decision to build the new Chevy Blazer SUV in Mexico, announced the same time that hundreds of permanently laid-off workers were walking out of the Lordstown plant for the last time, is no less than appalling.

GM last week announced its plans to bring back the Chevrolet Blazer, and said it will build the SUV in Mexico. The refreshed mid-sized SUV is set to go on sale early next year.

The decision drew public criticism — as well it should — from the United Auto Workers union and from Ohio’s elected leaders in Washington.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, criticized the timing of the announcement and called it an “outrageous decision” with timing that “could not have been worse.”

“On the same day GM is laying off workers in Youngstown, the company is bypassing American workers and sending more jobs to Mexico. GM should reverse this irresponsible decision, and use its tax windfall to invest in American workers.”

Terry Dittes, UAW vice president and director to the UAW-GM department, called GM’s decision “disappointing,” and issued this statement on the decision, according to the Detroit News:

“GM employs over 15,000 production workers in Mexico, pays the workers less than $3 per hour and exports over 80 percent of the vehicles to the U.S. to sell here. This is all happening while UAW-GM workers here in the U.S are laid off and unemployed.”

U.S. Rep. Timothy Ryan, D-Howland, also decried the decision and reacted by firing off a letter to GM CEO Mary Barra to urge the company to rethink the plan.

“… more can and should be done by GM to position the Lordstown plant for the next 20 years,” Ryan wrote.

We agree and, in fact, made a similar argument just last month in this very space when we called on General Motors to take into account the hard work and excellent output from the local plant that the company has enjoyed from the sale of its Chevy Cruze and other vehicles previously manufactured here and to maximize those successes by bringing production of a larger vehicle with a higher profit margin and ever-growing North American customer demand to Lordstown.

“Indeed, if past sales trends are to serve as any indication, production of more popular SUVs, pickup trucks or other larger model passenger cars will bring the best opportunity for continued success to the Lordstown GM complex,” we said.

Yet, given the perfectly timed opportunity to do so, GM opted, instead, to bring manufacture of the new Chevy Blazer to its Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, plant.

We are appalled by this decision, and hope the company realizes and appreciates the hard work done here so that production of the Blazer — or some other vehicle with long-term promise — is brought here to Lordstown.

After all, none of us, especially General Motors, should forget that it was the American taxpayers — not those south of the border — who bailed out the auto giant during the Great Recession to guarantee the U.S. auto industry’s financial success.