Near the end of last year, GM announced it would shut down five plants in North America and stop producing many of the sedans that have become slow sellers in the market.
This announcement brought a ton of heat to the company, but GM leadership has steadfastly stated the change is a fiscal one and needs to be made in order to invest in the future of the company. In order to avoid having too many slow-moving models and production facilities that aren’t operating at capacity, these cuts needed to be made to streamline the company.
The First Plant and the Last of a Model
The first of the five plants that will shut down is the Lordstown, OH assembly plant. This is where the Chevrolet Cruze has been built since 2011 and the last of this compact sedan rolled off the assembly line on March, 6 around 3 p. m. Many of the workers posed with this final car and took photos of it to document the event that is certainly more bitter than sweet. The fact that this is the last Chevrolet Cruze means that nearly 1,700 hourly jobs will be eliminated.
A Proud Tradition is at an End for GM
The Lordstown, OH assembly plant has been in operation for the past fifty years. During that time, more than 16 million vehicles have rolled off the line and of those, 1.9 million of them have been the Chevrolet Cruze, which has been built since 2011 at this plant. The facility is 6.2 million square feet in size and it will be used to produce fenders and other replacement parts through most of March and then be placed in a state of readiness until a final decision regarding this plant is achieved.
Workers Have a bit of Hope
Those who are losing their jobs at the Lordstown plant have an opportunity to move and receive new jobs at other plants in the Midwest and in the South. While that’s not an ideal situation, it does allow these workers to continue to earn a living. There’s also a current lawsuit in place that was filed by the United Auto Workers (UAW) that states the plant closure is a breach of the current labor contract between the union and GM. New contract talks are scheduled to begin this summer, which may address the use of the Lordstown facility for the future.
More Closures and More Last Models to Come
Four more plants are expected to have similar final photos and events in the near future. Two assembly plants, one in Detroit, MI and one in Oshawa, Ontario will be closed later in the year. Additionally, the transmission plants in Warren, MI, and Baltimore, MD will also be closed during this year. While the outlook is bleak right now for those who are losing their jobs and may be forced to transfer or move, there could be a light at the end of the tunnel with new labor contract talks and a commitment to invest in electric vehicles for the future of GM.