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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The resurgence in American automobile manufacturing hailed by President Trump took a sharp blow, as General Motors announced it would end production at five plants in Michigan, Maryland and Ohio and one in Canada, including the Lordstown plant near Youngstown, Ohio, just 75 miles from Pittsburgh.
GM says it is cutting 15 percent of its salaried workforce as it shifts production from passenger cars to the more popular SUVs and trucks.
Lordstown — with 1,600 employees, including an estimated 100 from Pennsylvania — currently manufactures the Chevy Cruze, but poor sales had already forced a cutback in shifts.
At a rally in Youngstown last year, President Trump promised that jobs would come back to the region, not disappear.
“They’re all coming back,” he said in July of 2017. “They’re all coming back, coming back.”
“I was very tough,” the President said on Monday.
The President said he talked to GM CEO Mary Barra after he heard the news.
“I said this country has done a lot for General Motors. You better get back in there soon. That’s Ohio, and you better get back in there soon,” said Trump. “We have a lot of pressure on them, you have senators, you have a lot of other people, a lot of pressure. They say the Chevy Cruze is not selling well. I say, get a car that is selling well and put it back in.”
The United Auto Workers Union called the closings a betrayal of union concessions and taxpayer bailouts.
“GM’s production decisions, in light of employee concessions during the economic downturn and a taxpayer bailout from bankruptcy, puts profits before the working families of this country whose personal sacrifices stood with GM during those dark days,” Terry Dittes, UAW vice president said. “These decisions are a slap in the face to the memory and recall of that historical American made bailout.”
GM says half the workers may be offered jobs elsewhere.
The union is promising legal action to block the closings, and the President says he is pressuring GM to find something else to build at the Lordstown plant.
That message was echoed by politicians in both political parties.
The company said the layoffs would begin sometime in January, and the closings would save General Motors some $4.5 billion by the end of 2020.