Deadline Looms for Laid-Off GM Workers to Claim Ohio Jobs

Lordstown GM car auto factory
Lordstown GM car auto factory

Autoworkers laid off from a General Motors plant in Orion Township, Mich., have until the end of the day Tuesday to decide whether to take jobs at the automaker's Lordstown assembly plant, some 250 miles away in neighboring Ohio.

The Lordstown plant, which builds the new Chevrolet Cruze compact car, has 375 job openings in assembly and stamping departments. Last week, GM made job offers to an undisclosed number of laid-off workers from the Orion plant with low seniority, the Detroit Free Press reported.

GM is providing workers who decide to move with a $4,800 subsidy to help with "basic relocation." The workers would retain the right to return to Orion when openings occur.

Earlier this month, GM unveiled plans to build a new compact Buick sedan, based on the Cruze, at Orion. Plans also call for a yet-unnamed subcompact Chevrolet car to be built there when production restarts next August.

The Orion plant, which used to assemble Pontiacs, has about 1,600 workers on layoff. When production resumes, only 1,330 production workers will make first-tier wages of about $28 an hour.

Aside from the workers who have rights to transfer back to Orion, GM won't hire any more tier-one workers for Orion, the Free Press reported. GM's goal is to staff the small-car plant fully with lower-wage workers. An agreement reached between GM and United Auto Workers allows the automaker to pay workers with less seniority lesser wages -- about half that of first-tier wage earners, or around $30,000 a year, down from $58,000 under the previous contract.

The wage concessions were the source of protest Saturday, when about 100 GM workers and retirees picketed outside UAW headquarters in Detroit.