Union Official: UAW Bent Over Backwards for GM to Keep Lordstown Open, and for What?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

The last Chevrolet Cruze rolled out of Lordstown Assembly earlier this month, with the 53-year-old plant going dark two days later. Some laid-off workers are staying put, waiting to see if September contract talks hold any promise of a future in Lordstown.

While General Motors admits the United Auto Workers was willing to do its part to save the Lordstown Assembly Plant, details of that pact remained unknown. Now, a union official has shed light on some of the concessions the UAW agreed to.

Declining sales of the plant’s sole product spelled the end for the model, and potentially the plant itself. Still, UAW officials felt there was hope for its continued operation, Concessions agreed to by the UAW and a new product would have given the facility a new lease on life, one official claims.

“Everything they asked us to do, we did,” said Dan Morgan, shop chairman of Local 1112 and chief negotiator of the agreement, in an interview with Bloomberg.

In 2017, after GM cut Lordstown’s third shift amid falling sedan sales, UAW officials met with GM brass over the course of three months, eventually hatching out a plan to make Cruze production more profitable. According to Morgan, the union agreed to concessions contained within a “Super Competitive Operating Agreement” — an even more aggressive pact than the one put into action at GM’s low-profit Orion plant.

“We knew we were making small cars,” Morgan said. “We wanted to know what we had to do to stay in the game.”

GM reportedly told the union officials that a more competitive labor agreement could help the plant gain a new product. Perhaps a Mexican-made product would come stateside, some members hoped. The agreement, signed in July 2017 and put into effect in 2018 “allowed GM to bring in contractors, temps and other lower-wage staff to work in the plant,” Bloomberg reports, with the concessions amounting to $118 million a year. Not surprisingly, it proved unpopular with members.

Another part of the deal was the merging of UAW Locals 1112 and 1714 for cost-saving reasons. For its part, GM agreed to amp up the Cruze’s marketing and offer deals on certain options — moves that never happened, Morgan claims.

Cruze sales continued to decline, with Lordstown losing its second shift in June of 2018. Still, by October of last year, Morgan said the Cruze was profitable, which made GM’s November restructuring announcement all the more surprising.

While GM spokesman Dan Flores admits the UAW made concessions, ultimately, “We didn’t discontinue the Cruze because of something the local union did or didn’t do,” he said. “It was a market-driven decision to discontinue the Cruze, and there were no products to allocate to Lordstown.”

As laid-off workers ponder whether to uproot their lives and take positions offered at other plants scattered across the Midwest, some worry waiting for Lordstown Assembly’s potential salvation will leave them last in line — and out of luck.

[Image: General Motors]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Namesakeone Namesakeone on Mar 31, 2019

    It's simple. To the major corporations, communities don't matter. Customers don't really matter. Employees really don't matter. Shareholders matter. And shareholders want short-term results, so they can sell their shares quickly for a profit. After they do, the company and all its stakeholders can go straight to hell.

  • DenverMike DenverMike on Apr 01, 2019

    Do us all a favor, take it all down to bare land. By the time new owners/users bring it all up to current commercial building code, it'd be much cheaper to start from scratch. That's partly why so many historic commercial and industrial builds go abandoned forever. GM is clearly dying to build cars where unemployment is greatest anyway. Mexico, right next to their sweatshop labor, parts suppliers.

  • The Oracle Going to see a lot of corporations migrating out of Delaware as the state of incorporation. Musk sets trends, he doesn’t follow them.
  • Foo Eh. Net present value is in the red, once you add in rapidly rising insurance, late by months basic repairs-and-no availability, battery replacement, future hazmat recycling fees, and even faster depreciation. Wait until litigants win for "too heavy" in accidents... The math is brutal but if you value virtue signalling, some will pay anything.
  • Lynchenstein @EBFlex - All ICEs are zero-emission until you start them up. Except my mom's old 95 Accord, that used to emit oil onto the ground quite a lot.
  • Charles The UAW makes me the opposite of patriotic
  • El scotto Wranglers are like good work boots, you can't make them any better. Rugged four wheel drive vehicles which ironically make great urban vehicles. Wagoneers were like handbags desired by affluent women. They've gone out of vogue. I can a Belgian company selling Jeep and Ram Trucks to a Chinese company.