Drive it Home campaign gets formal show of support from Ohio lawmakers

Local News

Just a month of production remains at GM Lordstown. The Drive It Home campaign hit the road on Wednesday, taking a trip south on I-71 to the state capital. Leaders wanted to spread the message of the plant’s importance.

We’ve seen and heard support from local lawmakers and Local UAW 1112. On Wednesday, that was backed up with support from across Ohio.

“It’s wonderful to see the chamber — along with the unions, and along with the legislature and local elected officials — gathering together to fight for thousands of people,” Rep. Michelle Lepore-Hagan said.

Local leaders, UAW members and supporters drove the two-and-a-half hours or so to the Statehouse in Columbus.

They made it back from their trip around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. A lot of them were excited, saying it was a good day.

“We met in the Senate. We also met a lot of House of Representatives and they said, ‘You have a lot of support down here,'” said Lordstown Mayor Arno Hill.

The Legislature offered up a proclamation — statewide support for the Drive It Home campaign.

Hill said the collective feedback was, “We are here for you and we are going to help you.”

To leaders locally, it’s exactly what they want to keep the ball rolling and keep the pressure on General Motors.

“We just want to make sure Mary Barra, GM, the board know that people in the Mahoning Valley take it very seriously, being part of the GM family, and we want to continue to do that,” said Dave Green, president of Local UAW 1112.

He said it’s not just about GM Lordstown workers, either.

“This is about a community. A lot of people in this community — business owners, churches, whatnot — that surround this facility are stakeholders, too.”

For the City of Warren alone, the implications are major.

“Lordstown is our largest water customer,” said Warren Mayor Doug Franklin. “So we’re looking to lose probably a half-million dollars in water sales, approximately $160,000 from sewer services.”

As well as an additional $150,000 from the general fund.

The international union will work to bargain with GM to bring a new vehicle to Lordstown, but that will also require lawmakers to agree to incentives.

“Other states put in incentive packages in front of manufacturers like General Motors. We want to make sure the state’s willing and able to sit at that table and make some decisions when the time comes,” Green said.

Lawmakers said they’ll do what it takes.

“Yes, we will work with incentives, we will work with the governor as best we can to maintain the jobs in Ohio,” Lepore-Hagan said.

As for the workers who will be out of a job in under a month, they’re having to uproot their families to keep working. Some of them wonder if they should transfer but no one knows what GM intends to do.

Mayor Hill said he doesn’t expect to hear anything definitive from GM for 5 or 6 months.

“Everybody wants another product. In a lot of other interviews, I tell people I’m still holding out because it’s a lot easier to retool the plant with nobody in it.”

He went on to say that it’s not that they want the plant to be empty, but it’s quicker and easier for GM to retool it that way for a new product to be brought in.

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