2020 OEIJ Awards- On-going Coverage: GM Lordstown Plant Closure
In late 2018, General Motors announced it would cease production at its massive plant in Lordstown, Ohio where sedans and small cars had been assembled since 1966. The move was a major blow to the community. In 2019, WKSU provided extensive coverage of developments as the plant moved toward GM’s plan to “unallocate” it in March.
This continuing coverage included the eighteen stories presented here with reporting from every member of our team, addressing efforts by community, legislative and labor leaders to pressure GM to bring a new product to the plant; how workers dealt with the plant’s final days in March; and the effect of the closing on local businesses.
In May, word leaked that there was a potential buyer for the facility. WKSU offered listeners information about the electric vehicle maker that expressed interest, upcoming national UAW contract talks expected to influence the Lordstown plant’s fate, and a union leadership change when the local president, needing to maintain his employment with the automaker, transferred to another GM facility.
The national contract talks resulted in a September strike that our team covered extensively, including reaction from local workers when a settlement was reached that secured Lordstown’s fate. A small group of workers shared a bond that endured years at the plant but would end with the closure.
In November, a deal was announced with the buyer that had expressed interest earlier in the year. WKSU worked collaboratively with journalists in Youngstown to share the community’s reaction and with colleagues in Cincinnati where the buyer first launched the electric vehicle company.
Our efforts provided listeners with comprehensive continuing coverage that helped them understand the many facets of this major story.