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GM is closing plants. Now its CEO has to explain why to Congress

General Motors chief executive Mary Barra is heading to hostile territory: Capitol Hill.The automaker...

Posted: Dec 5, 2018 3:28 PM
Updated: Dec 5, 2018 3:28 PM

General Motors chief executive Mary Barra is heading to hostile territory: Capitol Hill.

The automaker's plans to close four US plants has turned GM into "the most thoroughly disliked company in Washington, DC, right now," Debbie Dingell, a Democratic member of the House from Michigan, told CNN last week.

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Barra will aim to change that in her meetings with members of Congress, which are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, according to a person familiar with discussions.

She will sit down with congressional delegations from each of the three states where the targeted plants are located — Michigan, Ohio and Maryland.

"I look forward to continuing our engagement with GM," said Senator Rob Portman, Republican from Ohio, where the company said it plans to shut its 52-year old facility in Lordstown. "I hope the company sees the incredible potential in this plant by keeping it open."

GM said it needs to cut about 8,000 salaried workers, as well as about 3,300 hourly workers at the four US plants, to cut costs and invest more in the next generation of electric and self-driving cars.

The plants currently slated to close are in Lordstown; Detroit and Warren, Michigan; and Baltimore.

The plans to shutter the plants has caused a backlash on both sides of the aisle.

"This company has done something that nobody else has done for the last two years — Republicans and Democrats united," said Dingell, a former GM executive.

In one example of that bipartisanship, Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, released a joint statement with Portman calling on GM to change its decision on the Ohio plant.

"Senator Portman and I are committed to saving these jobs and call on GM to work with us to find solutions," said Brown.

The meetings come just as the Trump administration is pressuring European carmakers to increase production in the US — and asking Congress to ratify Trump's replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement, which the Trump administration hopes will attract manufacturing back to the United States.

Dingell said last week that she particularly wants to ask GM if it planned to build new plants in Mexico at the same time they are planning to close US plants.

"We need to get a far better understanding of what GM is up to. I don't like what I'm hearing on the grapevine, which is that they're going to move production to another country," she said. "We need to understand what their product plans are."

But GM has insisted it is not looking to shift production to other countries. Instead it will stop building the cars built at the Lordstown and Detroit plants, such as the Chevrolet Cruze, Impala and Volt, the Buick LaCross and the Cadillac CTS. engines for those models. GM says it's dropping those products because there's less demand for car models as car buyers shift to SUVs.

GM's plans have also come under attack by President Donald Trump, who vows to take action to cut government subsidies going to GM as a way of forcing it to keep the plants open. Dingell said she would support Trump taking action against her former employer.

"I'm not sure they showed an ounce of support or caring for the working men and women who were impacted by this announcement," she said.

But the money GM gets from government research grants and even from sales of cars to the federal government pales in comparison to the annual cost savings of $6 billion that GM says it will achieve with these cuts.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 115407

Reported Deaths: 3566
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion21196765
Lake10493323
Elkhart6528110
St. Joseph6392106
Allen6178202
Hamilton4848109
Vanderburgh360930
Hendricks2715123
Monroe256036
Tippecanoe239113
Johnson2305123
Clark221457
Porter213647
Delaware194262
Cass19419
Vigo182526
Madison164375
LaPorte142340
Floyd135862
Howard130563
Warrick128038
Kosciusko121617
Bartholomew116457
Marshall100824
Dubois96919
Boone96846
Hancock92143
Grant91934
Noble90832
Henry79826
Wayne75414
Jackson7499
Morgan71638
Shelby67229
Daviess66328
Dearborn66028
LaGrange63411
Clinton59914
Harrison57624
Putnam56412
Knox5159
Gibson5114
Lawrence51129
Montgomery50821
White48514
DeKalb47611
Decatur45839
Miami4353
Greene42435
Fayette42113
Jasper3942
Steuben3807
Scott37311
Sullivan33712
Posey3240
Jennings31312
Franklin30725
Clay3005
Ripley2968
Orange28824
Carroll27413
Whitley2707
Washington2651
Wabash2648
Starke2637
Adams2613
Wells2614
Jefferson2483
Spencer2413
Fulton2382
Huntington2363
Tipton22622
Perry22113
Randolph2167
Jay1800
Newton17311
Owen1681
Martin1640
Rush1554
Pike1471
Vermillion1280
Fountain1232
Blackford1193
Pulaski1131
Crawford1050
Brown1043
Parke962
Benton880
Ohio787
Union780
Switzerland690
Warren391
Unassigned0226

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 148894

Reported Deaths: 4734
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin26704607
Cuyahoga17375656
Hamilton13036315
Montgomery7755162
Lucas7280364
Butler5933111
Summit5265252
Marion308847
Mahoning3053281
Warren302349
Stark2838175
Pickaway264344
Lorain230786
Delaware223120
Fairfield208753
Columbiana192980
Licking191063
Trumbull1883132
Wood184172
Clark179440
Clermont170723
Lake161951
Medina146039
Greene144432
Allen143069
Miami142851
Portage113266
Mercer111918
Erie93546
Tuscarawas93020
Wayne92767
Ross87924
Richland86119
Madison81512
Darke79942
Belmont71827
Geauga71349
Hancock69510
Athens6692
Ashtabula65748
Lawrence65322
Shelby62510
Auglaize5979
Putnam58523
Sandusky56320
Huron5427
Union5292
Scioto4986
Seneca47014
Ottawa46830
Preble43315
Muskingum4012
Holmes3859
Jefferson3364
Henry31213
Logan3093
Champaign3043
Perry2969
Clinton29413
Defiance28911
Brown2882
Knox28415
Washington26023
Morrow2572
Hardin25213
Jackson2506
Fulton2411
Ashland2374
Crawford2366
Coshocton23411
Fayette2306
Highland2273
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Williams2073
Gallia18913
Pike1840
Meigs17410
Guernsey1698
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Monroe11018
Paulding1080
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Noble280
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