CEO Barra Gets an Earful about GM Plant Closures

December 06, 2018 at 12:36 AM

Ohio lawmakers urged General Motors Co. CEO Mary Barra yesterday to find new products to build in the Lordstown, Ohio, factory GM plans to close.

She also met with other lawmakers in Washington, D.C., and heard plenty of criticism about GM’s plan to also shutter an assembly plant in Hamtramck, Mich., and two powertrain factories in Michigan and Maryland. The closures will wipe out some 11,500 jobs in the U.S.

Critics pointedly suggested that GM, which received $51 billion in federal bailout aid that enabled it to emerge from bankruptcy in 2009, owes it to the country to try harder to preserve jobs.

Barra says she is painfully aware of the hardships ahead for those who will be laid off. But she notes that many of the affected hourly workers may be able to transfer to other GM facilities. Salaried employees will be offered outplacement help.

At the same time, Barra underscores the importance of GM remaining financially strong. She says the major adjustments in production capacity are urgent if GM is to maintain the financial strength to weather the industry’s shift from conventional carmaking to electrification, connectivity, autonomous vehicles and alternatives to traditional car ownership.

Barra also points out that a strong GM will be essential to support more than 90,000 surviving jobs in the U.S., along with hundreds of thousands of pensions for retired GM employees.

Barra is meeting with the Michigan delegation today to discuss the impact of GM’s plan to shutter two factories in the state.