Blame Barra, not Trump

To the editor:

A recent letter to the editor and a subsequent article in the paper blamed President Trump and his tariffs for the impending closure of the General Motors plant in Lordstown. Since neither of these documents contained any sources, I decided to look for information about General Motors and the impending closure of three plants in the United States and Canada.

According to articles in the Detroit Free Press, the current chairman and CEO of GM, Mary Teresa Barra, has a new vision for GM. She wants GM to focus more on technology instead of “just making cars.” She is focusing on developing electric cars and self-driving cars. This is the reason that she is discontinuing some models, which includes the model made at the assembly plant in Lordstown.

A conversation with my son-in-law, an auto industry employee, revealed the following information about discontinued models and plant closures. When a model is discontinued, the machines in the plant must be retooled to make the new model. Depending upon the retooling, this could be a partial plant closure or closing of the entire plant for a period of time, which could be many months. This is not an unusual occurrence in the auto industry. Do we know for sure that the plant closure in Lordstown is a permanent closure? Could this plant reopen in the future to assemble an electric car or self-driving car?

Here are ways that GM has spent money in the past few years. The ignition switch problem that resulted in 124 deaths and 275 injuries cost GM $900 million in fines. The CEO “spent millions remodeling GM offices in Detroit and Warren, Mich., so that they were comparable to offices in Silicon Valley.” The total compensation package for Barra in 2017 totaled $21.96 million. These are some of the major expenses at GM. All of the above facts can be verified in the online version of the Detroit Free Press.

Looking at the above facts, there is no way to conclude that the closure of the assembly plant at Lordstown is due to any trade deals that Trump is negotiating. Although Trump wants manufacturing jobs to stay in the U.S., he cannot force CEOs to continue those jobs. If anyone is to blame for the closure of the Lordstown plant, it is the overpaid chairman and CEO of GM, Mary Teresa Barra, and her “vision” for the future of GM.

Michalene A. King