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Ohio Congressman: 'Our community is still in shock' over GM closure

Marina Peña
Production assistant

After General Motors announced it was closing the Lordstown plant in Trumbull County, Ohio, one of five GM closures announced in late November, the “community is still in shock, ” Ohio Representative Tim Ryan told Yahoo Finance’s Final Round.

“The community is still trying to get their head around the fact that this plant is not going to have a car come March,” the Democratic Congressman said. “And that ripple effect through the housing market, and the schools, every aspect of our community has been brutal over the past week.”

‘An economic and a regional attraction‘ lost in GM closure

In November, GM (GM) announced that it will cut up to 14,000 workers in North America and close up to five plants as the company looks to boost profits and restructure to focus more on autonomous and electric vehicles.

Youngstown, Ohio Mayor Jamael Tito Brown recently told Yahoo Finance that the Lordstown plant GM closure would cost 1,600 workers and 3,000 suppliers their jobs in the immediate area and about 10,000 jobs total.

“[The Lordstown closure] will trickle down to places like Youngstown, Ohio, which we’re about 15 miles away from the plant,” Brown said. “But it is an economic and a regional attraction for everyone to do business.”

Tom Wolikow, a General Motors employee who is currently laid-off, left, takes a phone call at home alongside his fiance Rochelle Carlisle, right, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018, in Warren, Ohio. The GM closure would have a ripple effect. (Photo: AP/John Minchillo)

‘We need a healthy General Motors’

Ryan said that he is pressing GM CEO Mary Barra to have the Lordstown plant be part of the future of General Motors as the company moves “into the future, electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles,” as contract negotiations for plants to stay open come up in September.

President Trump is trying to prevent the closures now, criticizing General Motors and threatening to reduce the company’s subsidies including the federal tax credit for GM’s electric vehicles.

Ryan argued that trying to get rid of the tax credits that help consumers afford and buy electric vehicles and move that industry forward “is the wrong move.”

“We need a healthy General Motors, we need a General Motors movement to the future,” he said. “We just want this plant that’s helped contribute to General Motors for 50 years, and the community that supported them, to be a part of that future.”

1975: United Auto Workers President Leonard Woodcock shaking hands with worker during tour of the Terex Division plant of General Motors in Hudson, Ohio. (Photo by Walter Bennett/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

With GM looking to close plants in Michigan, Maryland, and Canada as well, Ryan said his community is trying stay open by selling its “award-winning workforce” and offering up partnerships with their manufacturing institute America Makes and Youngstown State University to the company.

Ryan added that GM should consider how “the social compact between corporations and their workers and the government and their citizens comes back into play in the United States.” Because right now, “workers don’t feel like they matter,” he said, seeing as they are “the ones who always get cut loose.”

Read more: ‘Economic lifeline of the whole valley’: Ohio mayor says GM closures would cost about 10,000 jobs

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