Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

General Motors' decision to idle several plants has inspired the ire of workers and lawmakers alike.

More than 14,000 jobs in North America will be eliminated should General Motors proceed with its plans to idle plants in Lordstown, Ohio; Detroit and Warren, Mich.; and White Marsh, Md. Doing so would abandon the workers who have served the company so well and the communities that depend on the economic benefit of the plants’ valuable manufacturing jobs.

But these jobs can be saved!

During a recent appearance on C-SPAN, Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul stressed that GM can elect to bring production of its more in-demand vehicles to the idled plants if it wishes to honor its workers’ loyalty.

“The company ought to be investing in [workers],” Paul said. “It seems like GM is putting the interest of its shareholders way far ahead of its stakeholders, and its communities and its workers. And there has to be a little more balance to that.”

Following a meeting with GM CEO Mary Barra, Ohio Sens. Rob Portman (R) and Sherrod Brown (D) both urged GM to act on opportunities to bring new production to the plants.

“Just as the workforce has stood with General Motors over the years, we expect GM to stand with these workers — and give them a chance,” Portman said.

 Considering long-term solutions to GM’s problems and those of similar companies, Paul highlighted the need for corporate boards to attend to their workers as well as their shareholders.

“Our companies are just so driven by quarterly earnings that they lose sight of what makes them sustainable over the long run. So, as you saw with GM, they announced 15,000 job cuts -- their stock price goes up, and there’s something very perverse about the incentives that are built into that system. I’m not saying that we throw it out, but I think there are ways to mitigate that.”

In an opinion piece for The Hill, Gary Jones, president of the United Automobile Workers, which has formally challenged GM’s plans, indicts the company’s greed.

“GM’s decision is a slap in the face to the U.S. autoworker. It’s a statement that their trust, loyalty and years of dedication aren’t as important as this year’s profits and shareholder gains and that their sacrifices made during the dark days of GM’s bailout are long forgotten,” Jones writes. 

Jones also calls for politicians to support the men and women whose lives will be devastated by the plant closures.

Before job loss irreparably damages the communities that have been built around GM’s factories, the company should hold faith with their workers and allow them to return to what they do best.