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GM ‘Unallocated’ Its Lordstown, Ohio, Plant. What’s Next for the Village?

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David Green, the president of United Auto Workers Local 1112.

If David Green is sure of anything, it’s that this has happened before.

From the decades before General Motors “unallocated” its Chevy Cruze plant in Lordstown, Ohio, there are a litany of examples of plant closures. The president of United Auto Workers Local 1112 recalls assembly liners divorcing their wives in the 2000s after a forced relocation sent them here from Flint, Michigan. He remembers seat makers—”hog ringers,” in autoese—being laid off from Magna Seating Systems due to outsourcing in the years after. He can bring to mind names of sanitation workers, HVAC men, bathroom cleaners, bulb changers, and floor sweepers that used to be GM employees, most of them for decades: a new Black Monday came, and then they weren’t.

But he still wasn’t prepared for Lordstown. Sure, he had seen telltale signs long before the storm: Since his appointment as union president last March, GM had downsized Lordstown’s facility from three shifts to just one that June; Local 1714, a nearby union hall Green had once led, was absorbed on GM’s urging into 1112 (to save $3 million a year). A week before GM announced the “unallocation”—a corporate euphemism meaning shutdown—of the Lordstown plant, Green had just initiated Drive It Home, a cross-sector campaign promoting local business, as if to bolster the village’s collective worth in spite of GM gradually inching out—to “provide hope” in the midst of uncertainty.

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