Friday, 14 December, 2018

GM CEO links fate of Lordstown plant to union talks, lawmakers say

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Ginger Lawrence | 07 December, 2018, 22:39

"We will be forever grateful for the assistance that the USA government provided General Motors and we're trying to make sure we're good corporate citizens and continue to provide jobs and provide vehicles and transportation that customers want in this country", Barra said.

U.S. President Donald Trump has been critical of Mexican production and told GM last week that the company had "better" find a new vehicle to build at the plant in OH, which could be crucial to his re-election chances in 2020.

While the executive described those meetings on Capitol Hill as "very constructive", GM's plans to streamline its operations in North America look set to go forward.

"I share their concerns about the impact the actions we announced last week will have on our employees, their families and the communities", Barra said in the statement.

"We're working very, very hard to make sure General Motors is around for several decades in a leadership position, and can provide jobs and support the communities and the stakeholders that are involved with the company", she said.

Barra came under pressure from Ohio's two USA senators and other lawmakers who want GM to shift production of a vehicle from Mexico or build electric vehicles at the Lordstown Assembly plant in their state that the automaker has said it intends to close.

GM said last week it would close five North American assembly plants next year and cut up to 15,000 jobs as it blames slow selling auto sales for the need to restructure. Barra, who met with MI lawmakers on Thursday, was advised to utilize US based GM plants for the production of new products before going to Mexico.

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Portman said he spoke to fellow Republican Trump on Wednesday about GM. She says GM has made "tremendous investment" in the United States and wants to help workers whose jobs are at stake.

She cast the decision to downsize as critical to keep GM competitive. She also noted GM is launching a number of new vehicles in MI next year.

Sen. Portman said Barra made no promises about the future of the Lordstown plant in OH, where the soon-to-be-discontinued Chevrolet Cruze sedans are manufactured. Brown and Portman said they argued for producing a different product in Lordstown, such as one of the new lines of electric vehicles GM has announced it is rolling out.

"We're not asking for charity".

Barra herself told reporters that GM was taking the steps it had to take to respond to a quickly evolving industry, and insisted the company was trying to be a "good corporate citizen". She was also expected to meet with lawmakers from MI on Thursday, among other meetings. "And we're going to fill up those factories, or rip them down and build brand-new ones".

Trump also said new auto tariffs were being studied, asserting, without evidence, that they could prevent job cuts such as those planned by GM. "Product decisions made by the company have left United States and Canadian plants with low volume".

Former Chrysler Chairman Bob Nardelli and Loci CEO John Wise discuss GM's decision to close some of its factories and lay off workers.