General Motors made a major announcement on Monday saying it will stop production at 5 plants across North America, including Baltimore operations in White Marsh. Come April, 310 employees will not have jobs.
"To say I'm disappointed in GM would be an understatement," Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler said.
He says he found out this morning that General Motors would be stopping production at the plant based in White Marsh for almost 20 years.
"This is a story where 300 folks went to work today, the beginning of the holiday season, and they come home this evening, faced with the reality that they no longer have jobs," Mohler said.
In a news release, the company said it will stop production at the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant in Detroit and Warren Transmission Operations in Warren. Other plans closing include the Oshawa Assembly Plant in Oshawa, Ontario, the Lordstown Assembly in Warren, Ohio and the Baltimore Operations in White Marsh, Maryland.
GM says it's part of an effort to improve overall business performance, reinvesting money in technology that the company believes will power its future, and save the company $6 billion by 2020.
“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,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “We recognize the need to stay in front of changing market conditions and customer preferences to position our company for long-term success. These actions will increase the long-term profit and cash generation potential of the company and improve resilience through the cycle.”
It means cutting 15% of its salaried staff and 25% of the executive staff; nearly 15,000 jobs in total. The Baltimore County employees produce full size pickup transmissions.
"Highly skilled employees. There are advanced manufacture workers that we believe will be in high demand," Mohler said.
Mohler says the county's workforce development team is available to help the impacted workers with training and job search workshops. He points to the success the county had after Calvert Distillery closed in 2015. They got workers reemployed and re-purposed the building.
"It now houses the only Guinness Brewery in the entire nation. It's been averaging about 10,000 visitors a month," Mohler said.
But he says the future of this plant is unclear. According to the company, that will be part of contract talks with the United Automobile Workers next year.
"The plant is a high-tech forward-looking plant that I think will be very appealing to a future employer," Mohler said.
Mohler and his staff have been talking with Baltimore County Executive-elect John “Johnny O” Olszewski, Jr. He said in a statement:
“Growing up in eastern Baltimore County, I saw firsthand how plant closings hurt workers, their families, and our neighborhoods. Wall Street analysts may call this a good move by GM, but it's devastating news for working men and women who were looking forward to the holiday season.
“I applaud County Executive Mohler's quick steps to support the workers and their families, and the County will continue to work with the UAW and GM to help people find stability in the midst of this uncertainty.”
Representatives with the UAW say they will confront GM's decision through every legal, contractual and collective bargaining avenue available.
“This callous decision by GM to reduce or cease operations in American plants, while opening or increasing production in Mexico and China plants for sales to American consumers, is, in its implementation, profoundly damaging to our American workforce,” said Terry Dittes, UAW Vice President, Director GM Department. “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. These decisions are a slap in the face to the memory and recall of that historical American made bailout.”
GM said that the moves will help continue its focus on crossovers, SUVs and trucks. The restructuring will help the company focus more on the electric and autonomous vehicle programs over the next two years. Those focuses include expanding the use of virtual tools, integrating vehicle and propulsion engineering teams, increase component sharing and compress global product development campuses.
Maryland Department of Commerce Secretary Mike Gill and Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation Secretary Kelly M. Schulz issued a statement saying they are ready to assist impacted workers too.
“The decision by GM not to allocate new products to the White Marsh facility is disappointing, and the state stands ready to provide resources and support for the impacted workers. This was a corporate decision to undertake a national restructuring, a decision the state did not have the opportunity to influence. Our teams at the Maryland Department of Commerce and the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation will work with displaced employees to direct them to employment resources including unemployment claims, training opportunities, and potential job opportunities. Given their advanced manufacturing, robotics, and other technical skills, we are confident that those affected by the restructuring will soon find opportunities with Maryland manufacturers.”