Santa walked off an escalator and over toward a set of executives awaiting him inside the GM Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit.
The scene was cheery, but the reality is the UAW was telling a handcrafted story: General Motors is preparing to shutdown plants, and in their writing of the story the company is the Grinch.
“It seems to me it’s just plain greed,” retiree Henry Boulder said from a podium in a hall rented by the union moments earlier.
GM is preparing to shudder a number of plants across North America — that includes both the Warren and Hamtramck Assembly plants. The company has also announced a number of layoffs coming even sooner at it’s Brownstown and Hamtramck plants. On Friday morning a number of UAW members gathered in front of the media in preparations to hand-deliver more than 4,000 letters written by fellow-members, family and friends. The hope is to keep the jobs local.
Boulder was among the five, or so, UAW members who walked oversized boxes wrapped as presents to hand-deliver the messages to top brass.
Doris Parnel, of UAW Local 22, was also on-hand. Her son has seven children including one preparing to graduate from high school. She’s concerned that GM is breaking up families, and called on Mary Barra, GM’s CEO, to put a stop to it.
“This is your family,” said Parnel, noting she worked at the Hamtramck plant along with Barra before she took a larger leadership position with the company. “We’ve been there. Things you’ve come and asked us to do we’ve done those things. This is family!”
GM reacted to the news by a written statement telling 7 Action News that the decisions the company has made are difficult and they understand they affect employees, families and the surrounding communities.
“Our focus is on our employees, and as we have said, we are working very hard on providing job opportunities for impacted employees interested in working at other GM plants,” a statement read, in part.
For Parnel that’s easier said than done. Her son has three years seniority and will be affected by the shutdowns, his wife works at another plant. According to Parnel, there are questions about how they’d move to another location with so many kids in the family.
All that said, she is keeping faith.
Asked if she believes the letters will make a difference she said, “We don’t know, but we’re hoping. We’re hoping for everybody because this is devastating.”