It’s not clear how many black workers will be affected by the closings
By Frederick H. Lowe
General Motors has announced that it is closing a total of eight plants, five in North America and three elsewhere, eliminating 14,400 hourly and salaried jobs to prepare for the driverless and electric cars of the future. The manufacturer employs 202,000 workers worldwide. It is not known how many African-American workers GM employs.
The job reductions will cost GM $2 billion in cash, but it will save the manufacturer $6 billion by the end of 2020.
General Motors announced it is shutting down assembly plants in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, the Hamtramck Assembly plant in Detroit and the Lordstown Assembly plant in Warren, Ohio. The plants manufacture the Chevrolet Volt, Cruze, the Impala, the Buick Lacrosse and the Cadillac CT6. The Impala made its debut in 1958 and at one time it was General Motors’ best-selling car now it’s one of the worse selling.
The manufacturer is also closing Baltimore Operations in White Marsh, Maryland and Warren Transmission Operations in Warren, Michigan. Both are propulsion plants. These closings will affect 6,300 workers.
In addition, General Motors will close an assembly plant in Gunsan, Korea, and two other unnamed plants outside of North America.
All of the plants are scheduled to close in 2019.
In addition, GM will reduce the number of salaried and salaried contract employees by 15 percent and executives by 25 percent, which will streamline decision making. These cuts will affect 8,100 jobs.
“The actions we are taking today continue our transformation to be highly agile, resilient and profitable, while giving us the flexibility to invest in the future,” GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said in a statement.
The United Auto Workers said in a statement that the closings, which will affect thousands of workers, will not go unchallenged.
The UAW and our members will confront this decision by GM through every legal, contractual and collective bargaining avenue open to our membership [concerning closing the North American plants], the UAW said in a statement.
“This callous decision by GM to reduce and cease operations in American plants, while opening or increasing production in Mexico and China plants for sales to American consumers is profoundly damaging to our American workforce,” said Terry Dittes, UAW vice president, and director of the GM Department.
The UAW noted that GM recently announced that the new Chevy Blazer will be assembled in Mexico and exported to the United States for sales.
While the news of GM’s plant closings angered the UAW, Wall Street counted its money as the automaker’s stock rose. The company’s stock rose to $37.65 per share Monday, up $1.72.
GM said it will double its resources over the next two years for the manufacture of electric and autonomous vehicles.
GM made its announcement the same day that the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, reported that 27 percent of African-American workers are at high risk of having their jobs automated.
President Barack Obama saved General Motors. When he took office after being elected in 2008, GM was teetering on bankruptcy. President Obama put together a financial plan to fund the company to keep it operating. He received both praise and criticism for his actions.