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Trump's Tariffs Fast Tracking GM Plant Closures

Mixed with meeting consumer demand, 7,000 jobs to be lost by end of 2019

Brian Young's picture
Nov 27, 2018

In another sign of companies preparing for an economic downturn, General Motors (GM) has announced massive layoffs to both their union and salaried workers.

In 2019, GM is planning to layoff 15% of their staff, including about 8,000 salaried workers and thousands of workers at the five manufacturing plants that they are closing. These moves come after GM announced earlier this year that the trade war with China and the resulting steel tariffs have cost the company over $1 billion dollars. GM has also seen sales of their smaller sedans plummet over the last few years as American consumers have begun to buy more SUV’s and crossover vehicles.

Following the announcement of layoffs and plant closures, the United Autoworkers union (UAW) issued the following statement:

General Motors decision today to stop production at the Lordstown, Ohio, and Hamtramck, Michigan, assembly plants will idle thousands of workers, and will not go unchallenged by the UAW.

This decision will also affect employment at other GM locations including Baltimore, Maryland, and Michigan’s Brownstown and Warren Transmission plants. The UAW and our members will confront this decision by GM through every legal, contractual and collective bargaining avenue open to our membership.

“This callous decision by GM to reduce or cease operations in American plants, while opening or increasing production in Mexico and China plants for sales to American consumers, is, in its implementation, profoundly damaging to our American workforce,” said Terry Dittes, UAW Vice President, Director GM Department. “GM’s production decisions, in light of employee concessions during the economic downturn and a taxpayer bailout from bankruptcy, puts profits before the working families of this country whose personal sacrifices stood with GM during those dark days. These decisions are a slap in the face to the memory and recall of that historical American made bailout.”

UAW Vice President Terry Dittes also released a video message to the UAW members affected by the layoffs.

This move also comes just weeks after GM announced that the manufacturing of the Chevy Blazer would be moved across the border into Mexico.

Across the border in Canada, workers at the Oshawa plant said that they were blindsided by the news that their plant would be closing. Members of UNIFOR, the union that represents the plant employees, walked out in protest. “We have a collective agreement that says they’re not closing any of our facilities … so we will do anything by any means to make sure that they live up to their word,” Jerry Dias said at a press conference in a packed union hall. “They are not closing our damn plant without one hell of a fight.”

Ford is expected to announce similar plant closings and layoffs in the coming weeks after announcing that they were planning on stopping production of sedans as well.

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