/Sens. Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown push GM CEO Mary Barra to scrap Ohio job cut plans

Sens. Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown push GM CEO Mary Barra to scrap Ohio job cut plans

Mary Barra, chief executive officer of General Motors (GM), arrives for a meeting with Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) on Capitol Hill, December 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. GM is under fire for plans to cut around 8,000 salaried workers and 3,300 hourly workers in the United States. 

Drew Angerer | Getty Images

Mary Barra, chief executive officer of General Motors (GM), arrives for a meeting with Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) on Capitol Hill, December 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. GM is under fire for plans to cut around 8,000 salaried workers and 3,300 hourly workers in the United States. 

Maryland lawmakers issued a joint statement following their meeting with Barra, saying they reiterated their “shock and dismay” at GM’s plan to cut jobs at the Baltimore Operations plant in White Marsh, Maryland. The plant employs 350 employees and contractors and makes light truck transmissions and electric motors.

“In addition to a $50 billion taxpayer bailout and a tax cut from the Republican tax law, GM has received nearly $115.5 million in federal, state and local grants exclusively for its White Marsh facility,” the group said, referring to the federal bailout GM received after declaring bankruptcy in 2009, during the depths of the financial crisis. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Reps. Steny Hoyer, Elijah Cummings, Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes signed the statement.

They called on GM to “return these grants to the taxpayers by providing re-training and new opportunities to affected employees.”

Barra said in a statement that her discussions with legislators from both states were constructive, and she shares their concerns.

“These were very difficult decisions — decisions I take very personally,” Barra said. “I informed the members that many hourly employees at the impacted U.S. plants will have the opportunity to work at other U.S. GM plants and that we are committed to working with them to minimize the impact on the communities.”

Salaried workers affected by the cuts will be offered help finding new jobs, she added.

Of the 14,000 job cuts, 2,250 workers have already taken voluntary buyouts, according to the company. Roughly 5,750 salaried workers and 6,000 hourly employees will be laid off. Half of the hourly workers are in Canada with the other half in the U.S.

Barra was scheduled to meet Democratic Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan, among other lawmakers, on Thursday.

GM also plans to cut production at two plants in Michigan and in Ontario.

The automaker has said the factories aren’t running at full capacity and are building mostly slow-selling and less-profitable cars. GM has said some of the jobs may be shifted to other facilities, but labor leaders say they worry the move is a pretext to move more jobs outside the United States.

“It’s important for GM and Mary Barra to have very serious conversations with members,” Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., said in a statement Tuesday. “Honestly, they should be having these critical conversations more often so we can keep manufacturing jobs in the U.S.”