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Lordstown's Mayor Worries About the GM Layoffs' Impact on Younger Workers

Former General Motors Lordstown plant
GM's Lordstown plant is cutting its second shift, affecting about 1,500 workers.

CLARIFICATION: The 800 jobs associated with the electric generation plant are construction jobs. The ongoing employment will total several dozen.

The announcement that General Motors will cut a shift at its plant in Lordstown is being met with concern about the ripple effect beyond the 1,500 workers who will be affected.

Last year, GM cut the third shift at the Lordstown plant. By the end of this June, the second shift will be cut as well. The plant is where the Chevy Cruze is assembled, and the move is attributed to falling sales of compact cars. Mayor Arno Hill says the ripple effect will hit other industries as well.

“Then there’s also Magna Seating, which supplies the seats. There’s Comprehensive Logistics, which supplies a lot of components. There’s a couple other spin-off industries. So it isn’t just the GM Lordstown Plant. It’s everything else that goes in the big package.”

Hill adds that construction of the city’s two electric generation plants – the first of which involves about 800 union skilled tradespeople – should help somewhat by offsetting the job losses at the GM plant.

Hill says losing the highly paid third shift was difficult for the village, but they planned ahead and were able to stay financially prudent when the plant was doing well. He’s concerned, though, for workers affected by the latest announcement.

“Normally when there’s layoffs like this, it’s usually the younger ones who are the least apt to be able to weather a storm like this because they have families to raise and newly purchased houses and things like that.”

Hill says he’s still optimistic about the plant’s future, since the Cruze will be built there for about four more years. He adds that he believes upgrades to the plant in the 1990s will allow it to be adapted for making other models in the future.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.