GM is Cruising from Ohio to Mexico

Kyndal Sowers

Kyndal Sowers Intern, AAM

On June 22, General Motors announced that it’s bringing back the Chevy Blazer, a classic SUV that hasn’t been made in over 10 years.

But there’s one catch – the new Blazer will be built in Mexico.

The announcement came on the same day that the entire second shift at the GM plant in Lordstown, Ohio was eliminated, laying off 1,500 employees. The third shift was cut last year, which laid off more than 1,000 employees.

Needless to say, General Motors didn’t have the best timing on this announcement. Hopefully their PR person realized that after they were criticized for “adding insult to economic injury.”

The Lordstown facility makes the Chevy Cruze, a once best-selling car, but its sales have declined recently. GM cited the shift in consumer demand from smaller compact cars (like the Cruze) to larger crossover vehicles (like the Blazer) as the reason for the layoffs. The reboot of the Blazer is the company’s attempt to capture part of the increased demand for SUVs.

Lordstown, located just outside Youngstown in the Mahoning Valley, is no stranger to economic plight, being part of the Rust Belt (although I prefer to affectionately call it the “industrial heartland”) that has struggled with the decline of manufacturing in recent years. The economic impact of the recent layoffs will certainly be substantial, considering that GM is one of the largest employers in the Youngstown area.

President Trump (who is known to bash companies on Twitter and take credit for “saving jobs”) has been noticeably quiet about General Motors’ plans to build the vehicle in Mexico. Trump made jobs one of the key issues of his campaign, and many argue that his promises appealed to white working class voters and won him victories in key states – namely Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

Just last year, President Trump held a campaign rally in Youngstown where he promised to bring back jobs six times in one speech. Now that workers there have lost their jobs, he’s nowhere to be found. It’s almost like he only wants to take the credit when it looks good for him.

Among those who haven’t been so quiet about General Motors’ decision is just the Ohioan you would expect: Senator Sherrod Brown.

On the Senate floor, Brown spoke about the importance of the Lordstown plant to the Mahoning Valley. He slammed General Motors for its decision to build the Blazer in Mexico after receiving federal tax cuts and millions of dollars in tax incentives from Ohio, and he urged the company to invest in American workers.

I agree with the Senator – it’s incredibly disappointing and frustrating that General Motors is offshoring production when they could be investing in American workers.

The Chevy Blazer is scheduled to go on sale early next year – but you can bet that I won’t be buying it.

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Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Federal Minimum Wage Reaches Disappointing Milestone

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

A disgraceful milestone occurred last Sunday, June 16.

That date officially marked the longest period that the United States has gone without increasing federal the minimum wage.

That means Congress has denied raises for a decade to 1.8 million American workers, that is, those workers who earn $7.25 an hour or less. These 1.8 million Americans have watched in frustration as Congress not only denied them wages increases, but used their tax dollars to raise Congressional pay. They continued to watch in disappointment as the Trump administration failed to keep its promise that the 2017 tax cut law would increase every worker’s pay by $4,000 per year.

More than 12 years ago, in May 2007, Congress passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. It took effect two years later. Congress has failed to act since then, so it has, in effect, now imposed a decade-long wage freeze on the nation’s lowest income workers.

To combat this unjust situation, minimum wage workers could rally and call their lawmakers to demand action, but they’re typically working more than one job just to get by, so few have the energy or patience.

The Economic Policy Institute points out in a recent report on the federal minimum wage that as the cost of living rose over the past 10 years, Congress’ inaction cut the take-home pay of working families.  

At the current dismal rate, full-time workers receiving minimum wage earn $15,080 a year. It was virtually impossible to scrape by on $15,080 a decade ago, let alone support a family. But with the cost of living having risen 18% over that time, the situation now is far worse for the working poor. The current federal minimum wage is not a living wage. And no full-time worker should live in poverty.

While ignoring the needs of low-income workers, members of Congress, who taxpayers pay at least $174,000 a year, are scheduled to receive an automatic $4,500 cost-of-living raise this year. Congress increased its own pay from $169,300 to $174,000 in 2009, in the middle of the Great Recession when low income people across the country were out of work and losing their homes. While Congress has frozen its own pay since then, that’s little consolation to minimum wage workers who take home less than a tenth of Congressional salaries.

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