Keep hope, resiliency for Lordstown rebirth

General Motors Lordstown complex workers desperately want to believe the mettle of United Auto Workers Local 1112 President Dave Green in his steadfast hope for a future to our General Motors plant.

“General Motors is going to put a product in that plant,” Green said this week with such fortitude that it is difficult for anyone in the entire Mahoning Valley — all of Ohio, really — not to believe him.

“We’re not going to give up hope,” Green said Tuesday. “We’re going to keep fighting and keep doing everything we can to make sure our members, their families and our community stays strong.”

We admire Green’s strength and that of all those who came together in recent months to showcase our unity and to call for a future for the Lordstown GM plant. Truly, it has demonstrated the resilient character for which this Mahoning Valley is known.

But still, here we are. This sad day is one that, after 52 years of producing quality automobiles, we hoped never would come.

The final Lordstown-built Chevy Cruze weaved its way through the sprawling complex Wednesday afternoon and now is being prepared for shipping to a Florida dealership where it will be sold. And with that, 1.9 million Cruzes later, the plant is silent.

We, like Green and everyone here, hope that silence is temporary. General Motors also has left the door ajar for the return of auto manufacturing to Lordstown.

GM spokesman Daniel Flores told us this week the plant will be kept in a “state of readiness” with a staff of skilled tradesmen on hand to keep an eye on the facility and ensure everything remains operable. The plant’s equipment is not expected to be moved, he said, because there is no definitive answer about the state of the Lordstown facility.

We suspect the plant’s future will depend on the outcome of new contract negotiations between United Auto Workers and GM. The existing labor pact expires Sept. 14, and it’s likely the future of this plant and others being idled by GM will be a big part of talks for a new collective bargaining agreement. Understanding the importance of this plant and these workers to our Valley, we, too, will maintain hope.

But what also must not be forgotten is that with or without the General Motors plant, this Valley — these strong people — will prevail.

The end to production of the Chevy Cruze or even, God forbid, the final end to our GM plant will not mean the death knell to our Valley.

If that were to happen, it simply would mean new opportunities to market and sell the plant, potentially bringing new jobs and a new focus to our area. There is hope because of this very marketable facility perfectly placed yards from the interstate highway easily linking us to Chicago or New York. There is the quick highway access with infrastructure built specifically for this complex. Of course, the property offers a sprawling manufacturing facility with a trained, hardworking ready-made workforce. We must stay strong and remember we have proven our resilience many times in the past, and we will again. The fact is we all must maintain hope in our Valley’s future — with or without General Motors.

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