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A General Motor's Employee Reacts To News Of Layoffs


Dnitra Landon got an unwelcome Thanksgiving surprise last week. She's worked as an assembly line worker at General Motors' Detroit plant for nearly four years. While she was home on Thanksgiving break, the company announced that two of the cars produced at the factory will be phased out, and hers will be among five plants shut down across the country. Some 14,000 GM workers will now be laid off. Dnitra Landon joins us from her home in Detroit. Thank you so much for talking with us.

DNITRA LANDON: Oh, thank you. Thank you for having me.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So take me back to the moment when you first heard of GM's plan to close your plant. What was your reaction? And did you have any inkling that this was going to happen?

LANDON: No, I didn't have any inkling. I mean, there were a lot of rumors and questions circulating. But I actually found out the night before. I had fell asleep on my living room sofa. And I woke up to turn the TV off, so I could go upstairs. And that's when I saw them announcing the cars that they would be discontinuing. And I said, wait a minute. Those are the cars that we build at D-HAM. And then I saw the part about D-HAM would be one of the plants closing. So I was really upset about that. I didn't sleep well that night at all because I was just kind of anxious. And I was like, wow. How could you announce this to the world before telling the people who actually come through your doors committed every day at 6 a.m. to get on that line and build those cars, you know? And when I got to work, co-workers were saying that their families were calling them the day before, saying, hey. So your plant's closing. We had no idea. It was really a shocker and kind of like a slap in the face.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You've worked at GM for almost four years. What has this job meant to you?

LANDON: The job - let me tell you. Before I worked for GM, I was homeless. And I was squatting in the house next door to me. And since working at General Motors, I've - it has afforded me the opportunity to own my own home without a mortgage. You know, it's afforded me the opportunity to build my credit and to just be able to live a different lifestyle than what I had been living prior to being employed. Now, I've - haven't always been homeless. It was just a moment. But since I've been at GM, going to work every day, doing my job, building cars, learning - it's been a great experience.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I want to ask you what the mood has been like in the plant. You went back to work, as well as your colleagues, after the layoffs were announced.

LANDON: Well, the mood is mixed. You know, there are some in the plant that are saying, well, hey, it's plant life. You know, when you come to work for a plant, you know nothing is ever concrete. Things change constantly. So it's a mixed mood. But mainly, the community is feeling slapped in the face. It's crazy.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Has anyone told you or your colleagues what's next? And have you begun to think about what your options are?

LANDON: They've given us options. Like, we have the option to transfer to some of the other plants.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Would you consider moving?

LANDON: Me personally - I would because my children are grown. But there are other workers at GM - say the ones that's been there 20, 30 years. They've built their whole life here in Detroit - their families, their children, their grandchildren. You think they want to up and move to Texas or Tennessee? No. That doesn't work for them like it works for me. So it doesn't seem like a win-win situation. But it's all about a faith situation now. And that's basically what Detroit and that community and my community have been dealing with for years. It's a faith situation. Whatever happens happens. But we're going to come out on top.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Dnitra Landon is an assembly line worker at the GM Detroit-Hamtramck manufacturing assembly facility. Thank you so much.

LANDON: Thank you so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.