Portman ‘deeply frustrated’ with GM’s plans to close Ohio assembly plant

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) on Nov. 26 expressed dismay with General Motors’ (GM) recently announced reorganization plans, which include the shutdown of its Lordstown Assembly plant in Warren, Ohio.

“I am deeply frustrated with General Motors’ decision to shut down its Lordstown plant and disappointed with how the hardworking employees there have been treated throughout this process,” Sen. Portman said on Monday.

Earlier that day, GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said the company was hastening proactive steps to improve overall business performance, including the reorganization of its global product development staffs, the realignment of its manufacturing capacity, and a reduction of salaried workforce – actions she said are expected to increase annual adjusted automotive free cash flow by $6 billion by year-end 2020 on a run-rate basis.

“The actions we are taking today continue our transformation to be highly agile, resilient and profitable, while giving us the flexibility to invest in the future,” Barra said in a Nov. 26 statement. “We recognize the need to stay in front of changing market conditions and customer preferences to position our company for long-term success.”

Following an earlier announcement that GM planned to cut a shift at the Ohio plant due to the weakening market for the Chevy Cruze, Sen. Portman said he’d had “frank conversations” with Barra then and “urged her to look to the Lordstown plant for production of other vehicles and to make a public commitment to the plant and its workforce.”

Currently, Barra said the Ohio location is one of three assembly plants that will be unallocated in 2019 by GM, among other actions the company plans to take in a so-called transformation first announced in 2015.

In another meeting on Monday, Sen. Portman said he “pressed GM again to provide new opportunities to the Lordstown workers and take advantage of the skilled workforce there.”

“I once again urged GM to make a commitment to bring a new product to the plant, especially since GM is proposing to build a number of new electric vehicles,” the senator said. “In the short term, I urged GM to at least reallocate some of the production and employees to the Toledo GM plant.”

Sen. Portman added that he plans to “continue doing everything I can to help the Lordstown workers during this transition.”

“For decades,” he said, “workers in the Mahoning Valley have made a commitment to GM, and today GM let northeast Ohio down.”