As Lordstown GM’s Last Car Rolls Off the Line, 1,400 Jobs Disappear

Cathalijne Adams

Cathalijne Adams Writer/Researcher, AAM

General Motors’ (GM) Lordstown Township plant’s first car, a Chevrolet Impala, cruised onto the road on April 28, 1966, and decades of work at the plant followed. But on Wednesday, the plant’s last car rolled off the assembly line, 1,400 jobs came to an end, and entire community suffers in their wake.

One of five GM plants that will be idled, Lordstown shut down production. Though 700 Lordstown workers have transferred to other GM plants, many are unable to uproot their families and have been left to search for new employment.

For GM executives like CEO Mary Bara, the closure of plants like Lordstown represents a shifting of gears to accommodate emerging automotive trends. But the human toll of the decision to unallocate plants is very real.

When family-supporting manufacturing jobs leave a town, few workers, particularly those without a college degree, can find employment that can replace these valuable jobs, as this Washington Post article illustrates.

GM production workers can earn between $61,000 and $88,000 annually. In stark contrast, the average salary in the area surrounding the Lordstown plant was only $38,000 in 2017.

With few employment options left in Lordstown, some workers are holding out hope that United Automobile Workers’ (UAW) labor contract negotiations with GM this fall will bring new production to the Lordstown plant. (UAW is currently also in the process of suing GM for stopping production at three plants before labor contracts expired.)

We at AAM hope that it is indeed not too late to restore at least some of these lost jobs. However, there’s much that could have been done to prevent the plant closures from the start. When corporate greed overrides responsible custodianship of a company, not only do workers lose, but entire communities supported by these valuable manufacturing jobs are devastated.

Manufacturing jobs have an outsize impact on employment outside the factory – a boon for areas where manufacturing is supported and a calamity where manufacturing jobs are eliminated. As a 2015 Economic Policy Institute report states, “For every person directly employed in manufacturing, manufacturing output supports more than 1.4 jobs elsewhere in the economy.”

The Lordstown community clears understands this – more than 100 people supported workers at the plant’s closing Wednesday, and Lordstown school board members lamented the strife children will experience in the closing’s aftermath – more than 10 percent of the school district’s students will be directly impacted by the plant closure.

GM’s workers are highly-trained professionals who deserve the opportunity to grow with their company. Bringing production of GM’s more popular models would honor their work and fully utilize GM’s human capital.

***

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.

More ...

A Friendly Reminder

A Friendly Reminder