Being in Mary Barra’s shoes these days is not something most people would want to experience. Still, it’s way better than being one of approximately 14,000 GM workers about to be laid off.
A week after announcing huge job cuts and factory closures that enraged U.S. President Donald Trump, GM’s CEO met members of Congress from Ohio and Maryland on December 5.
While the executive described those meetings on Capitol Hill as “very constructive,” GM’s plans to streamline its operations in North America look set to go forward.
“I share their concerns about the impact the actions we announced last week will have on our employees, their families, and the communities,” Mary Barra said in a statement. “These were very difficult decisions — decisions I take very personally,” she added.
Nevertheless, Barra had some slightly encouraging things to say to employees of the GM plants that will become idle in 2019. “I informed the members that many hourly employees at the impacted U.S. plants will have the opportunity to work at other U.S. GM plants and that we are committed to working with them to minimize the impact on the communities,” the executive said.
However, she didn’t say towards which plants the workers could migrate. As for salaried workers impacted by the restructuring, Barra said they “are being offered outplacement services to help them transition to new jobs.”
These rather vague promises didn’t convince members of Congress, especially Ohio senators and other lawmakers. They want GM to shift production of the 2019 Chevy Blazer from Mexico to Lordstown Assembly or start building EVs there.
However, in a brief interview with Reuters after the meetings in Washington, Barra said it would be “very costly” to shift Blazer production from Mexico. While the executive vowed to keep an “open mind” about the future of the Ohio plant, she stressed GM has excess capacity across the United States.
GM’s CEO is expected to meet members of the Congress from Michigan on December 6.