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GM, LG Chem Announce New Battery Production Plant In Lordstown

GM idled the Lordstown plant in March 2019. [Tim Rudell / WKSU]
The exterior of the former Lordstown General Motors plant, with an ad for the Chevy Cruze.

General Motors will partner with South Korean-owned LG Chem to build a $2.3 billion electric battery production plant in Lordstown.

The new plant is expected to bring an estimated 1,100 jobs to the area, paying $15 to $17 an hour.

But the community lost 4,500 higher-paying jobs when the GM plant closed earlier this year and the former workers are not optimistic that the pay or workforce needs of the new venture will make up the difference.

“People in the Valley appreciate any kind of new jobs coming,” United Auto Workers Chapter 1112 President Tim O’Hara said. “But as I’ve stated previously, nothing is going to replace the 4,500 jobs we lost.”

The new jobs won’t help the hundreds of employees who were transferred to other GM plants when the Lordstown site closed, either, he said. Wages at the battery plant are expected to be lower than working the Chevy Cruze line, too, though O’Hara said he expects there will be a vote on unionizing.

“Obviously, they’re not going to be paid the same amount of money that our jobs at General Motors were paid,” he said.

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) lauded the new investment in a press release, saying he sees the Mahoning Valley as positioned to become a leader in electric vehicle production – and that wages could go up with industry growth.

“While you don’t immediately see all of the benefits, we are positioned now to really have a really good run here in the next couple of decades, because we’re investing into industries of the now but also of the future,” Ryan said.

GM announced it would “unallocate” its massive Lordstown facility, along with two other assembly plants, last November. Workers and politicians alike held out hope jobs would stay even as production ended in March.

During the 40-day GM-UAW strike earlier this year, union negotiators demanded the Lordstown plant reopen and begin production on a different vehicle, but the final agreement did not include such a move. O’Hara said GM brought up a possible battery plant during those negotiations, but didn’t give a timeline or details.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said he had hoped to see GM stay in Lordstown in some way.

“While I remain disappointed that GM chose not to reinvest in its Lordstown auto assembly plant, I’m hopeful this new investment will be the beginning of a sustained, long-term commitment to the region that will continue to grow over time,” he said in a press release.

Any investment in the area is good, said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), but he’d like to see GM to do more.

“…we know that GM could have made a better investment in the Valley by bringing a new vehicle to Lordstown – and saving the jobs of its 4,500 workers at the plant,” Brown said. “I will continue pushing GM to ensure these new jobs are good-paying, union jobs that are good for the Valley as they move forward on the plant.”  

Last month, GM  sold the plant to Lordstown Motors, a new company that plans to  produce electric trucks.