Cruze Production Ends Wednesday, Up To 200 Lordstown Workers May Remain
It's down to the final days for the Chevy Cruze at the General Motors assembly plant in Lordstown.
"The last Cruze is scheduled to roll off the production line Wednesday, said Dave Green, president of United Auto Workers Local 1112. "The plant's going to go on official unallocated status as of Friday."
Despite little apparent progress getting a new product for Lordstown, Green remains hopeful that the union might be able to win a new lease of life for the plant during upcoming contract negotiations with the company.
He noted that UAW International Vice President Terry Dittes and Regional Director Rich Rankin recently visited Lordstown.
"I've never seen a vice president or a director, let alone both of them, walk through a plant and talk to people, listen to their issues," Green said. "They're going to be negotiating at the big table up in Detroit for us and they came down here. They know we're not numbers."
Green said because the UAW's current contract does not define unallocated status, there's confusion about the designation. It might mean that some workers will remain to make maintain the equipment in case a new product is assigned to the plant.
At the very least, Green said, the plant will remain open at least for a few weeks making replacement parts for the Cruze. He estimated that could keep around 200 workers on the job, although GM has not confirmed that number.
The plant that employed more than 4,000 workers just a few years ago has been down to 1,400 hourly employees in recent months as GM slashed three shifts to one.
GM officials have said reporters will not be allowed on the Lordstown property Wednesday. In a statement, GM spokesperson Cheryl McCarron said, "We know this will be an emotional day for our Lordstown team and we appreciate all their commitment and hard work to build the highest quality vehicles and therefore we will not be providing access to the plant to media."
Green said workers and supporters will gather just outside the plant with Newton Falls resident Werner Lange, a retired teacher who has stood vigil there for weeks: "They don't want us on their property that's fine. But that doesn't mean that people still don't want to congregate and maybe just have a shoulder to lean on."
The union and its allies are asking Lordstown supporters in the Mahoning Valley to wear blue on Friday as part of the Drive It Home campaign organized by the UAW and the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber of Commerce. Green wants those supporters to take and share pictures: "We're going to send them all up to (GM CEO) Mary Barra so she has some extra pictures for her GM family photo album."
GM has said it is discontinuing the compact Cruze and shifting its focus to making trucks, SUVs, and electric and autonomous vehicles. GM says the car isn't selling, but the union leader disagrees.
"We sold 142,617 Chevy Cruzes last year," Green said. "That's more than they sold of the Chevy Trax, I believe it's more than they sold of the Traverses. It's more Volts than they sold. It's more than a lot of cars they sold.
"People love the car. I've got one. My daughter drives one. I want to get my other daughter one. But at this point, like do I have to go buy a Honda now? It's very frustrating."