New jobs are planned for three General Motors plants in Ohio. And even more new jobs could be at the idled General Motors plant in Lordstown. But as Statehouse correspondent Jo Ingles reports, there are a lot of unanswered questions right now.
Gov. Mike DeWine was on the Statehouse lawn, enjoying displays from tourist attractions throughout the state when President Donald Trump tweeted: “Great News for Ohio!” Trump went on to say he had spoken to Mary Barra, Chief Executive Officer of General Motors. He says she informed him that, subject to agreement with the United Auto Workers, GM would be selling the idled Lordstown plant to Cincinnati-based Workhorse.
GREAT NEWS FOR OHIO! Just spoke to Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, who informed me that, subject to a UAW agreement etc., GM will be selling their beautiful Lordstown Plant to Workhorse, where they plan to build Electric Trucks. GM will also be spending $700,000,000 in Ohio...
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2019
DeWine seemed to be caught off guard by the announcement. He took a break to talk to Barra on the phone. Then, he told reporters she confirmed the plant, pending approval by the UAW, would be sold to Workhorse. Still DeWine’s tone lacked the euthusiasm of Trump’s tweet.
“I’m just by nature a cautious person and until I know all of the facts, it sounds like good news," DeWine said.
A short while later, DeWine gathered reporters inside the Statehouse where he said two things must happen for the Lordstown deal viable – the UAW has to approve it and the U.S. Postal Service has to choose Workhorse as the supplier for a $6 billion contract to provide the electric powered trucks for its fleet.
“This is a step but we have a long way to go and some things have to fall into place and actually happen but we are going to do everything we can to assist those in happening," DeWine said.
Workhorse already has contracts for some electric delivery vans for United Parcel Service and Fed Ex. But its latest annual report shows it lost millions of dollars.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted says that postal service contract is crucial for the 3000 estimated jobs at Lordstown to come to fruition.
“This company has been trying to be a leader in this technology over a long period of time but look, there’s nobody at this point and time who is making money in this space in this industry. That’s why the governor’s emphasis on having a sustainable customer through the U.S. Postal Service is such a big deal for the sustainability of any long-term production in Lordstown," Husted said.
In a written statement, UAW Vice President Terry Dittes said his organization’s position is unequivocal. He noted a federal lawsuit filed by the UAW on the closure of the Lordstown plant is pending and the UAW will continue to protect the contractual rights of its members there. Dittes says national negotiations on product placement will take place in July and adds the union will continue to monitor the situation to determine what course of action will most benefit its workers.
Though it might to too early to celebrate jobs coming to Lordstown, DeWine says Barra did give the state something to celebrate. GM plans to invest $700 million dollars into three of its Ohio plants – Moraine, Parma and Toledo. And she says that could create about 450 new jobs.