At 12:30 a.m. Saturday morning, the second shift workers at General Motors Lordstown will walk out of the plant for the last time — their shift eliminated for now.
The second shift may be back again someday, such is the auto industry. But for now, GM Lordstown will be at just one shift of about 1,200 workers.
About 1,500 people made their way into work Friday afternoon for their 4 p.m. start time.
“People have a lot of anxiety right now. Obviously, they’re losing their jobs, lots of folks, and we’re just trying to make sure we can get them through what’s coming next,” said UAW Local 1112 President Dave Green.
Next is being laid off, which comes after the second shift is officially cut. Then on Monday, there will be about 1,200 workers left at the plant manning the first shift.
On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Jobs Ohio and Jobs and Family Services will be at the United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 1112 union hall to help workers with employment possibilities and retraining.
“I’ve been in their shoes several times — indefinite layoff,” said UAW Local 1112 Vice President Timothy O’Hara.
Some workers took a buyout or retired since the announcement, so about 600 workers are expected to get laid off, based on seniority.
O’Hara took the $60,000 buyout, and after 41 years at GM Lordstown is retiring.
He started in 1977, just four months after graduating high school. He worked in the van plant, then made cars and was laid off probably 12 times — the longest being for 17 months.
“It creates a lot of fear, anxiety and stress on everybody involved, not just employees, their families as well. So yeah, it’s a tough day for us,” O’Hara said.
Sales of the Lordstown-built Chevy Cruze have been falling for two years as more people buy crossovers and SUVs instead of small cars.
What Lordstown needs is more vehicles to build.
“The whole goal here is to get more product in our plant. I’ve talked with folks at the international and up north and they’re committed to fighting for Lordstown, we’re committed to fighting to get product in here. We want to get our people back to work and more importantly, we want to make sure the community here stays viable with Lordstown,” Green said.
A GM spokesperson released the following statement about eliminating the second shift:
“It’s a realignment of production with demand. We’re working hard to get additional business for the complex. Chevrolet is not giving up on cars. The Cruze is very much a part of GM’s future.”
The complex used to have three shifts working around the clock. It got rid of the third shift last year, laying off about 1,200 people.