GM told the remaining workers at its sprawling plant in Lordstown on Monday that it is going to shut down all U.S. production of the Chevy Cruze in March 2019.
It’s part of an announcement that GM is laying off nearly 15,000 factory and white-collar workers in North America, including those at its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant in Michigan and Ashawa Assembly in Ontario, Canada. The reduction includes 8,100 white-collar workers, some of whom will take buyouts and others who will be laid off.
The compact Cruze is the only vehicle built in Lordstown. Slowing sales led to the elimination of two shifts over the last two years and the layoffs of about 3,000 people. The remaining 1,500 people on the first shift had been dealing with uncertainty over the last year.
In October, a spokesman for the company said GM remained committed to both the Cruze and continued sales of passenger cars overall. Now, GM says the Cruze will no longer be sold in the U.S. and production will end March 1.
Tom Wolikow, a United Auto Workers activist who was among the earlier layoffs, says the timing of Monday’s announcement was particularly brutal.
“For this to come right before Christmas time, it’s a slap in the face to us,” Wolikow said. “Right before Christmas. And four months (to prepare)?”
The announcement was made to employees at a Monday morning meeting. A GM spokesperson was not available to comment, nor was UAW President David Green, who spearheaded a recent campaign called “Drive It Home” to try to keep production going at Lordstown.
In a statement, UAW vice president called the move "callous" and a "slap in the face to the memory and recall of that historical American made bailout." UAW said the "Drive It Home" campaign will continue, despite the layoffs.
Ohio politicians also expressed outrage over GM's decision on Monday.
"For decades, workers in the Mahoning Valley have made a commitment to GM, and today GM let Northeast Ohio down," said Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) in a statement. His colleague, Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, called the decision "corporate greed at its worst."
"I implore President Trump to keep his word when he came to the Mahoning Valley last year and promised jobs were 'all coming back. They're all coming back. Don't move. Don't sell your house.' So far, President Trump has been asleep at the switch and owes this community an explanation," said Northeast Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, who represents Lordstown.
Ohio's incoming governor and lieutenent governor, Mike DeWine and Jon Husted, said they would visit GM in person to make the case for saving the Lordstown plant. Current Gov. John Kasich said the state would set up a jobs center to help employees find new work.
My statement on the situation in Lordstown. pic.twitter.com/Wx2u9V8iPu
— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) November 26, 2018
According to Wolikow, GM said it is looking for other product lines that could be moved to Lordstown, but there was no commitment made. Wolikow said the process of doing that could be slow even if it pans out.
When GM ended production of the Chevy Cobalt at Lordstown, it had already announced that the plant would be retooled for the Cruze.
GM opened the Lordstown plant in the late 1960s in the southwest corner of Trumbull County.
This article will be updated as the story develops.