Ohio members of Congress pressure GM CEO Mary Barra to keep Lordstown jobs

Ohio's U.S. Senators and more than a half dozen House members on Wednesday met with General Motors CEO Mary Barra in an attempt to retain jobs at Lordstown.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – General Motors CEO Mary Barra met with both Ohio’s U.S. Senators and more than a half dozen of its House of Representatives members Wednesday as part of an effort to retain jobs at its Lordstown plant, which is slated for closure in July.

But Barra wouldn’t commit to building upcoming company models at the Ohio facility, telling reporters that the company is focusing on ensuring that employees affected by the layoffs have opportunities to work at the company’s plants in Ohio, Michigan and Texas where jobs are available.

When asked whether GM owes the region more after taxpayers bailed out the company, Barra said that the company has invested more than $22 billion in the United States since 2009. While it is grateful for the government assistance, Barra said GM needs to focus on being a good corporate citizen and continuing to provide jobs, and vehicles that customers want.

“That is what I think is the most responsible thing we can do to thank the American taxpayers for what they did for us,” said Barra.

Barra said her company will continue to have a strong automotive presence in Ohio, with more than 4,000 workers. She said the Lordstown plant is being idled because of low demand for the Chevrolet Cruze it produces, not through any fault of its workers.

“We are in an industry that is transforming faster than I have ever seen in my career,” said Barra. “We are going to make sure GM stays strong and that we’re in a leadership position.”

U.S. Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown said they tried to persuade Barra to locate upcoming GM models at the plant, or bring back production from Mexico.

“Just as this workforce has stood with General Motors over the years, we expect General Motors to stand with this workforce and give them a chance,” said Portman, who said Ohio’s congressional delegation is “very disappointed” by the decision to put the Lordstown plant on an “unallocated” status.

Niles-area Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, who met with Barra along with a group of House Republicans from Ohio, said Barra indicated she will decide where new models are built after upcoming negotiations with the United Auto Workers union.

“The union contracts will have a lot to do with it,” said Ryan.

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