By on December 6, 2018

General Motors Renaissance Center

General Motors’ restructuring plan has placed it under heavy fire. As it turns out, domestic job cuts and factory closings aren’t all that popular on Capitol Hill or in middle America, especially when a company appears financially healthy. Go figure.

Hoping to mitigate the social damage that’s only guaranteed to escalate next year, GM CEO Mary Barra took a trip to Washington to speak for the automaker. However, there wasn’t much backpedalling or apology-making coming from the executive. Instead, Barra’s presence served only to show that the company is capable of listening while simultaneously reinforcing that there will be no changes made to the plan. 

That hasn’t sat well with a president who made employment the cornerstone of his campaign, or the two Ohio senators who want GM to reallocate production from Mexico to Lordstown Assembly to avoid job losses after the Chevrolet Cruze’s discontinuation.

“I want to make sure that the workforce knows that there are limitations and we do have an overcapacity across the country,” Barra said, suggesting that staff currently employed by plants set to close consider GM jobs elsewhere. “I understand this is something that impacts the country and I understand that there is a lot of emotion and concern about it.”

However, Reuters reports that she also said it would be “very costly” to shift production of the Chevrolet Blazer from Mexico to the United States. Fortunately, Barra also claimed that General Motors plans to add products to certain U.S. facilities in 2019. It just doesn’t look as if Lordstown will be given priority. Ohio Senator Rob Portman later confirmed that the CEO made no promises about the facility, noting that Barra had explained that the plant’s ultimate status would be determined via UAW contract talks scheduled for the coming year.

Lordstown

“We’re not asking for charity.” he said, suggesting that all Ohio needs is a new product to sink its teeth into.

Following her meeting with Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown and the aforementioned Portman, Barra announced that GM was working with the UAW to best determine what to do with the unallocated plants and how to retrain workers facing layoffs so they can be placed elsewhere. Talks with the UAW are likely to get messy. The union already alleged that GM’s restructuring plan violates commitments it made during 2015 contract negotiations. Since then, the UAW requested that the automaker rescind its decision and resolve the fate of the facilities it plans on closing during talks for a new labor contract in 2019.

From Reuters:

Barra is in Washington for meetings with lawmakers, including Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer as well as lawmakers from Ohio and Maryland. She was also expected to meet with lawmakers from Michigan on Thursday, among other meetings. After GM announced its plans, Trump threatened to eliminate subsidies for GM in retaliation.

Administration officials later said they wanted to end subsidies for electric cars in 2020 or 2021, affecting GM and other automakers.

Trump also said new auto tariffs were being studied, asserting, without evidence, that they could prevent job cuts such as those planned by GM.

In a statement released Wednesday evening, Barra said: “I had very constructive meetings with members of Congress from Ohio and Maryland. I share their concerns about the impact the actions we announced last week will have on our employees, their families and the communities.

These were very difficult decisions — decisions I take very personally. I informed the members that many hourly employees at the impacted U.S. plants will have the opportunity to work at other U.S. GM plants and that we are committed to working with them to minimize the impact on the communities. I also informed them that all salaried GM workers impacted by these actions are being offered outplacement services to help them transition to new jobs.”

GM: Barra at 2016 GM Annual Stockholders Meeting

Portman told the Detroit Free Press he spoke to President Donald Trump on Wednesday regarding the GM cuts and said he “is very committed to keeping this assembly plant in Ohio.” But while Senator Portman is seeking the president’s help, Senator Brown is pursuing Trump’s tactics. “The government saved this company,” he said, referring to the bailout of General Motors in 2009.

That’s been a common complaint among those displeased with GM. But Barra has tried to keep the focus on the current problem. “Where we are focused right now is on the workers,” she said, noting that the automaker invested $22 billion in its U.S. operations since the the last recession. The CEO also placed an emphasis on environmental concerns and ending the trade war with China whilst in Washington.

Some could not be diverted from the jobs issue, though. U.S. Representative-elect Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) brought up questions about GM’s long-term goals and environmental concerns but wanted to remain focused on the jobs issue. Tlaib was especially critical of the company, saying that Detroit and the United States have both “paid a terribly steep price to placate and keep GM afloat. Now, as we fight to rebuild our regional economy and create living-wage jobs, GM is repaying our sacrifice and investment by slashing thousands of jobs and closing the plant an entire neighborhood was torn down to build.”

“I’ll always stand in solidarity with workers and for what’s right and this is simply wrong,” she continued, adding that the automaker’s actions reaffirmed her commitment to making demands of corporations that receive public subsidies upfront.

[Images: General Motors]

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56 Comments on “Damage Control: GM Attempts to Smooth Things Over in Washington...”


  • avatar
    Matt51

    “Instead, Barra’s presence served only to show that the company is capable of listening while simultaneously reinforcing that there will be no changes made to the plan.”
    She may listen, but she has zero comprehension of what she hears.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Ms Barra also stated that she thought it was important for GM to be around for the next few decades, or words to that effect.

      No doubt that was a selling point to, then President, George W. Bush who floated GM working capital in 2008 at the urging of Hank Paulson, and gave, incoming President-elect, Obama some time to double down on handouts, bailouts and nationalization of GM.

      There were plenty of ttac’s B&B then who predicted that resuscitating GM was ill-advised and that another bankrupture would follow within 10 years.

      The changes that Ms Barra is advocating today should have been made in 2009 at the original restructuring. This late into life-support, all she is doing is re-arranging the deck chairs on this Titanic, because there aren’t enough people on this planet to buy GM products and make GM an on-going profitable concern.

      OTOH, there is the carcass that was once Chrysler and morphed into Fiatsler. Lee Iacocca would be proud of what Sergio did.

      If Ms Barra aims to “make GM great again”, she needs to do that by bringing those jobs back to the USA, not Canada, and not Mexico. She’s already reduced GM jobs in Canada. Now how about killing GM jobs in Mexico?

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Was it likely that GM would downsize after the bailout? Sure. But it’s doing so in an orderly fashion, while the company’s still profitable. It’s a business decision, not a desperation move.

        Ten years ago, this kind of layoff would have been a serious blow to the economy, and an outright GM liquidation would have been a disaster.

        The bailout was the right move, period. This doesn’t convince me otherwise.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Many of GM’s laid-off employees will be offered a company-paid transfer, if they choose to move to another plant. But how many of these gnarly dudes and dudettes are willing to move to an area where everyone is a stranger?

          When the NUMMI plant closed, Toyota offered a company-paid transfer to the Keepers (those employees Toyota decided were worth keeping), but not many accepted because the new location was foreign to their CA mentality.

          Others did not accept because their friends/relatives were not offered the same transfer because THEY were NOT worth keeping.

          • 0 avatar
            mikey

            HDC …They call them “GM Gypsies ” and a lot more common than you may think.

            In 2008-09 thousands of displaced GM ,skilled and unskilled migrated out to the oil patch .

            Our Virtue signalling, selfie taking, little boy managed to screw that industry up, almost as bad as his Commie Dad.

          • 0 avatar
            Peter Gazis

            highdesertcat

            Meanwhile Toyota guarantees their employees in Japan lifetime employment.

            So when the next recession hits, Americans again will be not worth keeping.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Peter, that recession IS coming. My guess is, right after the 2020 election results are in, IF Trump is not re-elected.

            I’m planning MY affairs accordingly based on what I saw when the 2016 election results came in. Back then, the economy took off.

            If Trump does not get re-elected, the economy will tank. And a lot of people will be laid off. But that’s how the ‘crats like we, the people, to be: dependent on welfare and food stamps.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @Mikey – Alberta f^cked themselves when it comes to oil production. They could have been as wealthy as Norway. The Feds didn’t force them to waste billions/trillions in oil revenue.

            There are over 400,000 jobs sitting empty right now in Canada. These aren’t just fast food minimum wage jobs. Skilled and unskilled labour in construction, mining, and manufacturing all sit empty.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            “If Trump does not get re-elected, the economy will tank.”

            As predicted,along with Mr.Orange and his followers/apologists, the excuses are already being trotted out.

            Oh and if the recession hits before 2020, just blame the Chinese, Europeans, Iran, Canada, Mexico and the Democrat majority in Congress.

        • 0 avatar
          mikey

          Agreed FreedMike, it was the right move at that time.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        HDC..”reduced GM jobs in Canada” ??? St Therese Que, London Diesel, Scarborough Van, Oshawa Truck. and soon the two Oshawa car plants , all gone . CAMI production is slated to move to Mexico.

        The USA coughed up some serious cash in 2009 . The Canadian, and provincial governments threw some more loot into the pot.

        I’m not sure exactly what Mexico contributed ???

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          mikey, like FreedMike said, it is a business decision. It’s hell for the people laid-off with nothing to show for the years they labored, but it is that way in any industry. That’s why there are unemployment benefits. Better now, in this booming economy, than BT (before Trump).

          As you may recall, there were several of ttac’s B&B who said long ago that serious restructuring would happen at some point because GM cannot lose money on every product they make and hope to make it up in quantity over the long run.

          Right now, with President Trump in control, the American automakers are between a rock and a hard place. And I have no doubt in my military mind that President Trump will have some major impact on the US auto industry and will get his way – by bringing manufacturing jobs back to the US.

          Yes, at the expense of Canada and eventually Mexico too.

          I have to admit that I am impressed with the cooperation President Trump has garnered thus far from idealogical adversaries like China and North Korea. And I am optimistic that more concessions will be gained from them over the next two years.

          If President Trump does not get re-elected in 2020, all this will have been an exercise in futility. But by then, most baby-boomers will have had their cake, and ate it too, and the people left withering on the social and economic vines will be the millennials who will have to reshape their world in their own vision.

        • 0 avatar
          Matt51

          If GM wants to sell cars in Canada, they need to make some cars in Canada. GM is on a death march.

        • 0 avatar
          Peter Gazis

          mikey

          Mexico has signed trade deals with South America, Europe and many of the Pacific Rim countries. Allowing GM to export Mexican made vehicles to these countries tariff free. GM also sells over 200,000 vehicles a year in Mexico.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @Peter Gazis – ironically, NAFTA version Cheeto is mostly original NAFTA sprinkled with TPP language. Canada’s concessions were already spelled out in the TPP. “We” did not give up anything that wasn’t already planned…… how’s that for being a master negotiator?

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        You guys aren’t talking about the elephant in the room: demand for GM’s products.

        You can talk about jobs all you want but, without demand, GM doesn’t need workers.

      • 0 avatar
        formula m

        highdeserter needs his blood pressure meds to keep up his furious pace of keyboard cowboy comments.
        What a pathetic example of someone acting like a rotten old man inside and out

    • 0 avatar
      civicjohn

      She doesn’t want to hear it.

      Her salary of $30 million divided by an average employee salary of $50k would save 600 jobs.

      Get another 2-300 illegal immigrants to live on her property and we’re making real progress.

      The posturing of this whole deal is preposterous. The fact that the US Government decided GM was added to the “too big to fail” list is sickening to me. They should have gone through the normal bankruptcy process. Conversely, if the Feds decided that this was the best thing to do, they should have got guaranteed minimum staffing numbers from GM.

      But GM’s answer was the Cruze and the Bolt?

      We just get to watch the whole thing one more time. Ms. Barra and her autonomous driving vision is absolutely ridiculous, and people that have bought into this myth only have themselves (and their broker) to blame.

    • 0 avatar
      ect

      “She may listen, but she has zero comprehension of what she hears.”

      Quite possibly. OTOH, many of the GM critics seem to be saying that the company should make vehicles it can’t sell, just to keep plants open. Which is entirely unrealistic.

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      Matt51

      What exactly do you think Mary Barra doesn’t understand?

      • 0 avatar
        Matt51

        The politicians, from President Trump on down to the other political leaders, Republicans and Democrats, are telling her there will be consequences to her actions. She needs to re-allocate product from Mexico to the US, this has minimal impact on price. Note Ram moving assembly back to the US.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          Mexico has more free-trade deals than the US, so it makes sense to manufacture there even at price-parity.

          Source:
          https://www.pwc.de/de/internationale-maerkte/assets/doing-business-mexico-automotive.pdf

          The US has been moving away from free trade, and there is a lot of uncertainty about the future of trade deals and tariffs.

          Manufacturing in Mexico for worldwide export is looking pretty good, with better foreign market access and more stable leadership than the US.

          I don’t expect GM to close their Mexican car plants.

          Many of us saw these consequences coming — but is what the American electorate cheered for and voted for. So here we are.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    “…GM is repaying our sacrifice and investment by slashing thousands of jobs and closing the plant an entire neighborhood was torn down to build.”

    Which plant was she referring to? Hamtramck? Orion Township?

  • avatar

    I find it strange GM cancels one of their few world class vehicles the CT6V.

    Lets be honest GM products are just not very good. In just about every comparison test they finished at the back of the pack.

    GM – what a disgrace!

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      akear, how many people on the planet actually BUY a CT6V.

      Whatever the number, it isn’t enough to keep making them. We, the People, have no idea how much money GM loses on each CT6V because money is fungible and easily shuffled between divisions to make GM appear to be profitable.

      • 0 avatar

        Audi keeps some slow selling token cars around for prestige. The CT6 almost makes up for the pervasive mediocrity throughout GMs lineup. The CT6 shows me that GM is capable of some impressive engineering, while something like the Traverse shows GM barely cares. I wonder why somebody would buy the Traverse when there are much better vehicles like the Honda Pilot available. At GM mediocrity rules the roost.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          For many in America it is that they are financially strapped, and often have to settle for that Traverse when they really want that CT6.

          GM has a long record of catering to the masses, as in “See the USA, in your Chevrolet” campaigns. Problem was when GM buyers started leaving the fold for better-built, longer-lasting, dependable vehicles built by foreigners that were imported to the US of A, i.e. Accord, Camry, etc.

          I admire Ms Barra for making the hard decisions. None of her predecessors had the guts to make the changes that were sorely needed. Not only is Ms Barra unpopular with her soon-to-be-unemployed employees, but she has raised the ire of President Trump.

          And that is NOT good. This guy is not happy. And if President Trump is not happy with the way things are going in America, he has already proven he’s going to something about it.

          Cancellation of GM subsidies and creative accounting practices is just the start.

          My guess is, Ms Barra will do everything she can to re-assign fired employees or retire them even earlier at a discount.

      • 0 avatar

        It is a halo car. Cadillac if wants to stay relevant it has to make no compromise full size luxury car pulling out all the stops even if they loose money on them.

  • avatar
    GregLocock

    Old GM went bankrupt because of poor business decisions. The US government bailed it out. New GM has decided for business reasons it needs to cut employment and close plants. The US Government doesn’t want them to that, so must be looking forward to bailing them out again.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      Yeah, I’m honestly puzzled by the reaction to this move. It doesn’t make business sense in the current environment to continue to keep these factories open employing these workers to make these vehicles. The government can make policy changes around the margins to shift the overall business environment somewhat, but GM, like any private business, will do whatever is best for the company for whatever that business environment is. What else could they do?

    • 0 avatar

      They will need to be bailed out again when fuel prices skyrocket again. I can see unsold GM SUVs littering dealers lots during the next fuel crisis. Barra is just another short term thinking CEO.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        The difference eis that, after CAFE moved to the footprint model, CUVs are pretty efficient.

        With the old CAFE, CUVs had to be jacked up to qualify as a “truck”, with the accompanying loss of efficiency. Under the new model, their efficiency is judged relative to their size, and so they’re designed more like cars and have a more car-like environmental impact.

        What so many people seem to forget is that hippie liberal environmentalists like to read the MPG numbers on the window stickers. Which is why the belt-alternator-starter mild hybrid system didn’t steal any sales from the Prius.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    Hamtramck.

    Four thousand (people displaced, or homes/businesses razed) to make room for GM to build it’s then “world class” plant to build what GM considered to be world-class FWD full-size cars (which were forever immortalized in Ford’s Lincoln commercials that made fun of them, as well as Fortune’s magazine cover that did pretty much the same).

    I was in school at the time, but it was national news…Detroit used eminent domain to force these people out of a VIABLE neighborhood (this was still Detroit after all, where many neighborhoods looked like war zones and were about as safe–and things really haven’t changed much, so a decent neighborhood was even more of an asset)

  • avatar
    hreardon

    Perception, my friends, is everything.

    Barra’s moves are every bit prudent and logical. Better to make these moves while GM is healthy, to ensure there’s sufficient oxygen to survive the industry shifts and market downturns to come.

    The problem is that the optics are horrible: America bailed out GM ten years ago and GM is bailing on American workers. Pour a little Trump gasoline on the fire, and it just looks like a holy mess all the way around.

    An appropriate move, with terrible optics.

  • avatar
    JoDa

    According to globalist GM, Deplorables are unionized midwest white guys.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      This.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      “According to globalist GM, Deplorables are unionized midwest white guys.”

      “During his presidential run, Donald Trump repeatedly proclaimed that he would help workers. He even boasted, “I have great relationships with unions.” But actions taken by the Trump administration have directly targeted workers and unions.”

      “The anti-labor attack gained momentum in the last weeks of 2017. Trump had to wait until his two nominees to the five-member National Labor Relations Board were confirmed. Those new members flipped the board’s majority from Democrat to Republican. And then the NLRB, which oversees collective bargaining law and enforcement of US labor laws and standards, quickly issued a slew of key decisions that rolled back a number of worker- and union-related reforms.”

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      And we thank JoDa for proving once more that no good comes from wearing a tinfoil hat.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Boycott General Mexican.

  • avatar
    Matt51

    Guess who the Feds will help (not GM)
    https://www.cnbc.com/2018/12/06/fiat-chrysler-reportedly-plans-to-open-new-assembly-factory-in-detroit-to-build-suv.html

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Question: Is it possible GM could sell one or more of these plants to another automaker who could use some capacity? Subaru or perhaps H/K would want to further insulate themselves from geopolitical issues and IIRC building in Korea is not much cheaper than the states. Maybe one of the other JDM’s? Japan has a serious population issue facing them in the near future and the ability to staff their work force. Honda, in my mind, is already an American company. They might as well go all in and move the whole deal here.

    Are the plants forever union shops or something? Seems like this could be an opportunity for another company.

  • avatar
    manu06

    And GM wants to be a Chinese company. How about no government contracts
    and no subsidies for GM ? A previous poster is right, the US and Canada to an
    extent bailed out GM and GM subsequently moved production to China and Mexico.
    Upper management needs to make a sacrifice for a change because their ineptitude
    created this mess.

  • avatar
    dantes_inferno

    “Damage Control: GM Attempts to Smooth Things Over in Washington…”

    The Damage is done. All the employee discounts in the world won’t change this little tidbit from a post I read:

    “People aren’t buying GM cars because they just are simply inferior to other brands. If you have money you buy Euro or Japanese. Those with less money are buying Korean.”

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    SCREW GM, I’m so p!ssed at them, I won’t even buy a Toyota…

  • avatar
    TMA1

    I would have loved it if someone had brought up the “my mommy works at Chevy” commercials to Barra.

  • avatar
    justathought

    Take this with a grain of salt. But my mind is always on the hunt for answers, and sometimes it possibly may go deeper than I think. Just some points, make your own connections, be a critical thinker.

    – General Motors Foundation
    – 2008-2009
    – Hillary Clinton
    – Clinton Foundation
    – GM Uzbekistan
    – Mary Barra, Possible VP pick?
    – Donations?
    – Bailout?
    I want to put Rick’s name, but I may be stretching my thoughts too far.

    Anyhow, you are all welcome to talk amongst yourselves!

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    “According to globalist GM, Deplorables are unionized midwest white guys.”

    “During his presidential run, Donald Trump repeatedly proclaimed that he would help workers. He even boasted, “I have great relationships with unions.” But actions taken by the Trump administration have directly targeted workers and unions.”

    “The anti-labor attack gained momentum in the last weeks of 2017. Trump had to wait until his two nominees to the five-member National Labor Relations Board were confirmed. Those new members flipped the board’s majority from Democrat to Republican. And then the NLRB, which oversees collective bargaining law and enforcement of US labor laws and standards, quickly issued a slew of key decisions that rolled back a number of worker- and union-related reforms.”

  • avatar
    SuperCarEnthusiast

    It seems that Mary Barra is a Globalist. She does not care about the U.S. – it people, the country or it’s well being! Sad!

  • avatar
    JD-Shifty

    most of you turds just buy foreign anyway.


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