At a Friday afternoon meeting between employees and management at the General Motors Lordstown plant, workers say they learned that production will be reduced to a single shift.
According to several sources within the meeting, employees were told that General Motors would eliminate one of the two remaining shifts, starting on June 18.
Employees say they have also been told that the company will offer a $ 60,000 purchase for anyone approaching retirement, however, a company source says that smaller purchases are also available to employees with less antiquity.
the company says that approximately 1,500 positions will be lost. The company's website says the plant currently employs 2,700 full-time workers and 300 additional salaried employees.
Informative meetings are scheduled for next week to notify employees about the possibilities of purchase.
A statement by General Motors spokesman Lordstown, Thomas Mock, attributed the cut to improving the economy and reducing gas prices.
Last year GM operated the assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio in two shifts. As the market continued to undergo historical changes, it forced us to reduce production rates and take several weeks of inactivity to link production with lower customer demand for compact cars. When we analyze the compact car market in 2018 and beyond, we believe that a more stable operational approach is to match market demand in a single shift schedule. As a result, we will suspend the second production shift in Lordstown at the end of the second quarter of 2018.
Across the industry, the US small car market. UU It has been steadily declining since 2014 due in large part to a change in consumer demand for crossovers, trucks and SUVs. The lower fuel prices and the improvement of the economy are contributing to this trend.
The automotive market remains important for GM and Chevrolet, accounting for 36% of retail sales in the industry. The small car segment also brings new and conquering customers to Chevrolet.
On Friday afternoon UAW 1112, the union representing the majority of Lordstown GM workers, issued a letter to union members about the change of shift.
In the text of that letter, union officials say that the cancellation of the shift was not expected and will be difficult for union members and their families to overcome.
"We have gone through these times in the past and together we will overcome this too," the letter says. "Your address remains dedicated to retaining and acquiring new and future products in our facilities."
The letter to union members continues, saying: "This shift loss in no way reflects the hard work of our membership. You are doing a fantastic job and this is Noboody's fault, just a change in customer preference. "
Last January, GM eliminated the third shift at the Lordstown complex because the company says it was a change in the buyer's preference for small cars to trucks and cross vehicles.
1,200 UAW members lost their jobs when that shift came to an end.
According to General Motors, the Lordstown plant is responsible for more than $ 181 million in wages and pays more than $ 35 million in salary taxes.
In addition, the plant is responsible for millions of dollars in donations and charitable donations over the years.
The mayor of Lordstown, Arno Hill, says he still hopes the situation can change.
"We know that during the last 30 years we have had ups and downs," said Mayor Hill. "At one point in the 90's they were talking about closing the plant."
But Mayor Hill said that as gas prices fluctuate and the market continues to change, there is always the possibility that Lordstown can return to its full three shifts.
NBC Auto Analyst Phil LeBeau tells 21 News that there have been persistent rumors about the Lordstown plant every six weeks or so.
Appearing by telephone at 21 New at Midday, LeBeau told host Jennifer Brindisi that he thought it would be an "interesting afternoon" and one that he believed "the people who work at Lordstown will not be crazy."
According to LeBeau, he anticipated that any announcement would reflect the current state of the automotive industry, in which consumers have opted to buy more S-U-V & # 39; s and crossovers.
LeBeau said that current sales and demand for Cruze models are low. Cruze sales fell 2.2% in 2017 compared to the previous year.
"We are already seeing the sales and demand of the Cruze, if it remains at its current rate for this year, it will drop approximately 30 percent in the United States in terms of sales," LeBeau said. "And in relation to 2015, sales will fall more than 55 percent."
"That's a reflection that cars and sedans are not favorites, people want utility, people want space and that's why SUVs and crossovers are as popular as they are," LeBeau explained. "And that means fewer people are buying the Chevy Cruze, and ultimately that's what is hurting the Lordstown plant."
LeBeau mentioned that although Cruze's total sales are barely a bit away from previous years, the majority of the Cruze market has been dominated by sales of the Mexico-manufactured tailgate model.
General Motors announced in 2015 an investment of $ 350 million in the production facilities in Ramos Arzipe, Mexico, so that the plant could start producing the Chevy Cruze.
A year later, GM announced that Mexican models of the new Chevy Cruze would be shipped to car dealers in the United States, but said that Mexican production would not affect Lordstown.
Despite the sales figures that continue for models like the Chevy Cruze built by Lordstown, GM introduced the recently redesigned 2019, Cruze this week.
Just moments after the announcement, Valley congressman Tim Ryan issued a statement saying:
"I am deeply disappointed by today's GM Lordstown Announcement," said Congressman Ryan. "While low gas prices fuel the decline of the compact car like the Chevy Cruze, President Trump's intention to weaken fuel economy standards is putting his thumb on the scale in favor of the bigger cars and cars. SUV manufactured elsewhere, he said he was against the winners and losers of the government's election, and yet it goes against the same region and state that helped put him in office.As these layoffs are implemented, I will do everything in our power to help the affected employees and their families get through this difficult time. "
Congressman Ryan directly signaled an ad in April that encouraged the sale of larger cars and SUVs & # 39; and revoked the laws with respect to the Environmental Protection Agency regulations that cover the emissions.
A few days ago, Ryan said the Administration is returning to Ohio and putting GM Lordstown at risk. "Current vehicle standards save consumers money, create thousands of manufacturing jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil that is ruining our public health and the environment."
"A recent report shows that $ 76 billion in new and promised investment in our automotive plants since 2008, including more than $ 10 billion in new and promised investments in Ohio." Congressman Ryan said. "By encouraging automakers to invest more in large trucks and SUVs, President Trump is putting Mahoning Valley's economy at risk, Trump is putting ideology above Ohio jobs and jobs."
Meanwhile, Senator Sherrod Brown issued a statement saying it was his belief that General Motors needs to use its tax revenues to save jobs.
"GM can not pocket billions of dollars in tax cuts and turn around and fire Ohio workers whose livelihoods depend on these jobs. I hope GM tells Ohio residents how they will use their fiscal gains to keep Ohio residents in their jobs. "
Republican Senator Rob Portamn also reacted to the news, saying he will do everything in his power to help GM workers during the uncertain future.
Your full statement reads:
"This is obviously very discouraging news, I have visited the Lordstown plant and seen first-hand the world-class automobiles these workers produce. My office will do everything possible to help These workers with the appropriate resources during this transition, I hope GM understands the great resource they have in this plant and these workers, and reinvest in it in the future. "
The Lordstown School District says they will do everything they can to adjust and support the families of GM Lordstown.
A statement issued by Superintendent Terry Armstrong says:
"First and foremost, this is terrible news for Lordstown and the entire Mahoning Valley, our focus will remain on our students and their families. The district will also make the necessary adjustments to our budget as we continue to plan our five-year forecast.Our opinion is with the families of all workers affected by the disaster.The loss of jobs "
] This is a story in development. Go back to wfmj.com to see the updates.