UAW retirees say next governor won’t affect GM

GIRARD — Two retirees of United Auto Workers Local 1112 at the General Motors Complex in Lordstown said they don’t think the next governor of Ohio will have much influence on the automaker regarding the future of the plant.

The men said the decision will depend on General Motors, not a state officeholder, after hearing Democratic candidate for governor, Richard Cordray, speak at a meeting of retirees Monday in Girard.

But Cordray said he, not Republican candidate Mike DeWine, is the man capable of convincing GM to keep production in Lordstown for “years to come.”

“I will go to Detroit, I will push them hard and I will make sure that they understand that these workers in the Mahoning Valley compete better than anyone in the state, better than anyone in the world and we can bring those jobs here and we can have production for years to come,” Cordray said.

DeWine’s campaign did not respond to an email Monday seeking comment.

George Yuricek, of Warren Township, who started at GM in 1970 and retired in 2003, said he is “almost sure” GM won’t give up on Lordstown and believes they will reinvest in the plant with a new product.

Still undecided in the governor’s race, Yuricek said when running for office, politicians often tell you what they will do, but are often ineffective in their goals once elected.

“It is always the same old ways. They tell you what they will do and try to do. But there are too many layers of government, too much bureaucracy,” Yuricek said. “Those things don’t get done, they may be impossible to get done.”

D. Buck Hornberger, who started at GM in the mid-1960s and retired in 1998, said Cordray has his vote, but he doesn’t believe he’ll be able to sway company leaders to stay in Lordstown.

“I don’t believe who is governor is going to matter. It will take more than that to make a difference with GM. And I don’t think we are going to see any tariffs from (President Donald) Trump on auto companies that manufacture out of the country,” Hornberger said. “The plant is over 50 years old, and I can’t say if GM will close it or not, but the feelings right now aren’t good. I don’t see a whole lot of smiling faces, I don’t see a lot of confidence in GM.”

Hornberger said GM gave hints about their intentions with the plant when they announced, in the same week they announced the elimination of the second production shift at Lordstown, that other GM vehicles would be produced in Mexico.

“GM has made up its mind,” Hornberger said.

Yuricek said while he doesn’t think Cordray or DeWine are capable of using the office to persuade GM on the future of the plant, he hopes Cordray listened to him when the two shook hands Monday.

“I told Cordray, in a nutshell, that all of the money raised here by raising taxes is being sent to Columbus to make everything look nice down there. They keep raising taxes to send to Columbus. But look around here, our roads are falling apart. It is sad. We need to do something about that,” Yuricek said.