Commentary #84: “As GM’s Lordstown plant idles, an iconic American job nears extinction”

Lordstown GM Plant

Image Credit: CNN

I saw this fascinating CNN article on Wednesday, March 6th:


The Lordstown, Ohio plant has been closed for nearly a week now. It made its last Chevy Cruze sedan on March 6th. Another sign of the times. General Motors (GM) has shrunk from more than 618,000 workers to just north of 100,000 people.

Auto manufacturing in the U.S. has been declining for a while now. The closure of Lordstown is part of GM’s shift in strategy – Away from sedans, more focus on higher-margin trucks and light SUVs, as well as researching and developing electric and autonomous vehicles. GM has also invested in a ridesharing platform called Maven.

In addition to a declining workforce, U.S. auto workers have experienced a drop in wages (Roughly 18 percent since 1990, adjusted for inflation), and less retirement benefits. Just two years ago, only eight percent of factories offered pensions.


Lordstown sits in the Youngstown, Ohio region, halfway between Cleveland and Pittsburgh. The average worker in Youngstown made $38,000 per year in 2017. Compare that to $61,000 to $88,000 per year for full-time GM production workers, according to their United Auto Workers union contract. And that doesn’t include overtime pay and bonuses.

The Lordstown plant started to see changes about two years ago. As the demand for the Cruze sedan declined, the second and third shifts were cut, and 3,000 people were laid off. Of the remaining 1,400 people, about 400 accepted transfers to other plants, and they are able to hold on to their healthcare and pensions. There were 350 workers eligible for retirement. Those transferred workers will receive $30,000 in relocation assistance.

One of the workers interviewed for the article, at GM since 1995, thought she had enough seniority to transfer to another facility, such as the metal fabrication plant in Cleveland or the transmission factory in Toledo. However, relocating is not ideal, either. She’s stuck, quoted as saying GM has her in a “chokehold.”

“I make $32 an hour. I’m not going to go get a $12-an-hour job. I couldn’t survive on that at all. I’m going to get up and go, ride it out, try to get the best gig I can get, and be done with them.” She’s hoping to net her 30 years at GM – which won’t happen until 2025.


The Youngstown region has watched manufacturing slide downhill since the 1970s. The auto industry started to crack less than a decade later, with stiffer competition from Japanese automakers. In 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) dealt another blow, as work was outsourced to lower-paying suppliers. In 2007, as the automakers were having systemic issues related to the financial crisis and impending Great Recession, a lower-wage tier was created for entry-level workers, where they made 45 percent less per hour and got a 401(k) rather than a guaranteed pension. GM’s bankruptcy two years later tightened things even further.

For Lordstown, the community has thrived on GM. At one point, GM helped bring more than $2 million in tax revenue, among other benefits to schools and community ventures. Twenty years ago, Lordstown was competing with other cities to win another car model to replace the Chevy Cavalier. The community banded together, and along with plant officials, were successful in winning that car model. The community tried it again in 2018 – Posting signs, writing letters, and working with politicians. Unfortunately, one of the big factors was plant management wasn’t interested in participating this time.

Many are uncertain and fearful. They’ve watched GM shutter, and then re-open, their plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee. What if that happens in Lordstown?

Another problem is many GM workers were hired without secondary education. Nearly two-thirds of the 13,000 purported job openings in Youngstown, including information technology and healthcare, will require a post-secondary credential by 2021.

One bright spot is trade adjustment assistance, available to GM workers through the state and U.S. Department of Commerce. Truck driving certificates have been popular recently, due to the quick turnaround to earning them, and relatively good pay.


As Lordstown begins to adjust to life without GM, the local high school has started a training program for the logistics industry, helping prepare students for jobs in the various distribution centers in the area. Roughly 15 percent of students have parents worked in the plant. And they’ve already begun to experience losses, as families leave to accept those transfers at other GM plants.

TJ Maxx is building a facility that will employ 1,000 people locally. However, the wage difference is drastic. Where many at GM made $30 per hour or more, entry-level listings for other TJ Maxx facilities sit between $10 and $13.50 per hour.

However, Lordstown doesn’t want the shuttered plant to be turned over to Amazon, Tesla, or any other company. Not yet, anyway.


This story isn’t just about one GM plant in one Ohio town. It’s about history, the manufacturing industry, the changes in the American workforce, and what can be done for those who need jobs now.


Resources


Until the next headline, Laura Beth πŸ™‚

Writing Prompt #212: The ABC Book Challenge (The Letter W)

ABC Book Challenge - C

Memorable Books Starting with the Letter “W”:

A Walk to Remember (Hardcover).jpg

A Walk to Remember

  • This is one of my favorite Nicholas Sparks books. The movie adaptation (2002) was also really well-done.

the-war-that-saved-my-life

The War That Saved My Life

  • This was one of my favorite books I read in 2017. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, The War I Finally Won, soon!

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Where Have All The Flowers Gone?: The Diary of Molly MacKenzie Flaherty

  • This is one of my all-time favorite Dear America books.

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Where The Sidewalk Ends

  • Shel Silverstein was so gifted. I’m not a huge poetry fan, but I love his writings and illustrations.

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Where The Wild Things Are

  • This is one of the best children’s books.

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The Whistler

  • I love John Grisham! This particular book was a bit disappointing, but I still enjoy his work.

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Winnie-the-Pooh

  • The books are delightful. I remember doing a school project on A.A. Milne, and how he created these characters!

The Woman in Cabin 10 - Amazon

The Woman in Cabin 10

  • Al bought this book for me for Christmas 2017. I quickly devoured it, and want to read more from Ruth Ware.

Books I’d Love to Read Starting with the Letter “W”:

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Water for Elephants

  • I’ve wanted to read this book since finding out, years ago, that Sara Gruen wrote this during NaNoWriMo!

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When You Reach Me

  • This one looks intriguing.

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Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

  • I’ve been curious about this book since I first saw in on the local library shelf when I was in high school.

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Will Grayson, Will Grayson

  • I don’t remember reading this, although John Green is one of my favorite authors.

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Wonder

  • This book has been on my radar for the last year or so.

What books have you read, or want to read, that start with the letter W? Let me know!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth πŸ™‚

Writing Prompt #204: The ABC Book Challenge (The Letter V)

ABC Book Challenge - G

Memorable Books Starting with the Letter “V”:

The Vacationers

The Vacationers

  • After abandoning it originally, I’m glad I finished this book. It’s definitely more of a “fluff” or “beach” read, but it was entertaining and fun.

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The Velveteen Rabbit

  • I don’t think this was my favorite book, but we definitely had a copy!

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The Very Hungry Caterpillar

  • This book was special to me and my family! Eric Carle is such a talented artist and writer.

Victory in the Valley

Victory in the Valley

  • Domeka used to work at my company. He’s an amazing pastor, husband, and father. This is his first book. It’s part memoir, part testimony, part Bible study. I’m already looking forward to the sequel!

Books I’d Love to Read Starting with the Letter “V”:

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Vanishing Acts

  • I keep hearing good things about Jodi Picoult and her books. I need to get this one at the library soon.

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Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster

  • I wasn’t alive when the Chernobyl disaster occurred in 1986, but I’ve been fascinated by it since first learning about in several of my history classes.

What books have you read, or want to read, that start with the letter V? Let me know!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth πŸ™‚

Getting Personal #161: “Way in the lake, Lipnik Park in Ruse, Bulgaria” (Reblogged)

I feel at peace when I’m surrounded by nature, especially water, trees, or both.

This photo also symbolizes a path. A path, a journey to the other side.

We are all on our own journeys. The good thing? We can choose our paths. We have that choice. No one can take that away from us.

I’m constantly inspired by nature and landscapes. This particular photo looks like it was taken in autumn, when the leaves are changing colors and the trees are changing seasons. Here in Virginia, we don’t always experience four seasons. But, the trees do. I like to think so, anyway.


What’s your favorite season?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth πŸ™‚

Just Wunderlust

Way in the lake, Lipnik Park in Ruse, Bulgaria

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Writing Prompt #192: The ABC Book Challenge (The Letter U)

The ABC Book Challenge - I

Memorable Books Starting with the Letter “U”:

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Uglies (Uglies, #1)

  • I had never heard of this book before my Young Adult Literature class in 2011. I ended up really liking it. I have yet to read the rest of the series, but I want to.

the-underground-railroad

The Underground Railroad

  • I first heard about this book when the author was interviewed by Terry Gross for Fresh Air. By the end of the interview, I knew I needed my own copy. It was not a disappointment.

Books I Would Like to Read Starting with the Letter “U”:

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Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption

  • I’ve wanted to read this for quite a while. I’m in a fun Facebook group called The Book Drunkard. As part of a fun book and chocolate swap around Valentine’s Day, my swap partner sent me this book and yummy chocolate. I can’t wait to read it soon.

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The Uncoupling

  • I first head Meg Wolitzer’s name when one of the critics for Fresh Air reviewed her newest book at the end of a podcast episode. It led me to research her other works.Β I need to pick it up at the library.

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Under the Banner of Heaven

  • Jon Krakauer has been on my watch list for a while. I’ve heard good things about several of his books. This one is especially intriguing because of its focus on faith. I want to see his take on religious beliefs and its extremes.

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Uninsured in America: Life and Death in the Land of Opportunity

  • It may be a bit dated now – The book was first published in 2005 – but I still want to read it. As someone who works for a regional health system, I’m always curious about other people’s perspectives on insurance and health care.

What books have you read, or want to read, that start with the letter U? Let me know!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth πŸ™‚

Writing Prompt #185: “30 Day Disney Challenge” (Day 19)

30 Day Disney Challenge

Image Credit: Meerkat Musings

Day 19 – Your least favorite Pixar movie

Cars 2 (2011)

Image result for cars 2 poster

Image result for cars 2 poster

As much as I wanted to like this one, since I liked Cars (2006) so much, this one was just a messy, muddled story. Sometimes, the international spin just doesn’t work!

I still haven’t seen Cars 3 (2017), but I’ve heard it was better than this one. I like the characters and the concept overall. In reality, they could have kept it as a standalone movie.


Come back tomorrow for a new post!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth πŸ™‚

Writing Prompt #184: The ABC Book Challenge (The Letter T)

The ABC Book Challenge - K

Memorable Books that Start with the Letter “T”:

Maryellen - amazon

Taking Off: A Maryellen Classic 2

  • I love Maryellen’s books. They remind me of what my mom’s childhood was like in Florida in the 1950s.

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Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

  • Judy Blume’s books defined my childhood!

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Things Fall Apart

  • I was assigned to read this toward the end of high school. I remember struggling with it, but the discussions we had in class were good.

This Is Where It Ends - Goodreads

This Is Where It Ends

  • This was a tough book. An important subject, but tough to read when The Pulse nightclub shooting happened in Orlando, Florida.

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To Kill A Mockingbird

  • I was assigned to read this in high school. It quickly became one of my favorite books. I re-read it every year.

Image Credit: www.shapingyouth.org

Tornado Warning: A Memoir of Teen Dating Violence and Its Effect on a Woman’s Life

  • Another powerful book. It was put into my life at the perfect time. Buying my own copy was perfectly timed and orchestrated, too. The coolest part was when the author, Elin Stebbins Waldal, found my Book Review in July 2015, read it, and took the time to comment on my post!

Books I’d Love to Read Starting with the Letter “T”:

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The Tales of Beedle the Bard

  • I want to round out my collection of Harry Potter texts with this one.

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That Was Then, This Is Now

  • The only book I’ve read by S.E. Hinton is The Outsiders (1967). I really want to read this one soon.

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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

  • I really do want to read all of the Bronte sisters’ work, someday. This one looks fascinating!

Tex SE Hinton.jpg

Tex

  • Another book from S.E. Hinton. I really need to capitalize on my local library.

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The Time-Traveler’s Wife

  • I’ve heard good things about this book for years!

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Treasure Island

  • I remember learning about this classic through WishboneΒ (“Salty Dog”), and then Muppet Treasure Island (1996).

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Tropic of Cancer

  • This book was on the list during my year-long reading challenge, but I never got to it. Another one I should look for at the library.

What books have you read, or want to read, that start with the letter T? Let me know!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth πŸ™‚