Lordstown UAW leader: ‘GM was so dug in on…shutting this plant down’

Local News

President Tim O'Hara said the UAW negotiators did everything they could to reopen Lordstown, but they couldn't secure a new product

LORDSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The tentative agreement approved Thursday by leaders of the United Auto Workers union does not include a new product for the Lordstown plant.

It wasn’t the news former workers wanted, but hope remains for the plant. GM may still end up with a presence around Youngstown after all.

In a statement released Thursday afternoon, a GM spokesman wrote that projects planned for the Mahoning Valley include the opportunity for a battery cell production plant, creating a thousand jobs.

Plans also include selling the Lordstown complex to the Lordstown Motors Corporation to build electric pickup trucks — another 400 jobs initially.

Neither of the initiatives is covered under the tentative agreement with GM and the UAW.

State lawmakers realize changing GM’s mind about bring a new product to Lordstown would be tough at this point, but remain optimistic about what could happen in the future.

“We just not going to sit back and do nothing,” Sen. Sean O’Brien said. “We are going to continue to fight for the area, fight for these projects to come in and if they don’t work, we’re going to have Plan C.”

O’Brien said he plans to meet with Governor Mike DeWine next week. They are expected to talk about what needs to be done to get electric pickups or a battery cell production facility in Lordstown.

Leaders at UAW Local 1112 were disappointed the union could not secure a product for the Lordstown plant.

Local President Tim O’Hara said he was in the meeting Thursday in which the union leadership voted to approve ratification. But both he and shop chairman Dan Morgan voted against it.

“I’m disappointed that they couldn’t secure a product, but they told us they did the best they could,” O’Hara said.

He left Detroit frustrated, heading for Bowling Green, Kentucky — his new home where his wife now works at the GM Corvette plant.

O’Hara said during the seven-hour meeting of UAW leaders, Morgan gave a passionate speech in support of the Lordstown plant and was given a standing ovation.

“He basically said that what happened to us can happen to anyone and, of course, everyone in that room works at a General Motors facility. So he just wanted to tell them that we did everything we did, we could, to secure another product.”

“We remain strongly opposed to the decision to unallocate the plants,” said UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg.

He said the UAW negotiators did everything they could to reopen Lordstown, along with plants in Baltimore and Warren, Michigan.

“It takes two people to negotiate, I’ll just leave it at that. I think everybody understands how serious that issue is.”

“I think GM was so dug in on splitting apart Local 1112 and shutting this plant down, which is not just bad for our members, but bad for the Mahoning Valley,” O’Hara said.

UAW leaders also decided to continue the strike until the contract is ratified.

Meetings start Saturday and the deadline to vote is Friday, October 25, meaning the strike will last at least another eight days.

O’Hara said Local 1112 will have its ratification meeting the first of the week and vote midweek, though he didn’t have exact dates or times.

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