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Metro Detroit reacts to looming General Motors plant and worker cuts

Posted at 5:46 PM, Nov 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-28 11:02:54-05

The workers inside General Motors' Detroit-Hamtramck plant returned to work a full shift today, one day after GM CEO Mary Barra announced no work was scheduled for their plant beyond next June.  

Fifteen hundred hourly and salaried jobs could be lost.  

The four cars they make inside are being discontinued.  The workers are worried about their futures.

Some are bitter. Some are shocked, including Jalen Woods who has worked there four years.

He says, “Hell. I don’t know what to do next.  I’ve been here four years. The job is gone, like, 'now what?'”

Rick Hill works for a supplier and was inside the plant where the mood is somber, “Talking about Christmas coming how it’s going to impact everyone. New Years.”

Mark Thornberry worked for GM and now works for a supplier.  He’s bitter that they weren’t told by the company, but found out through the news.

He says, “Not my first rodeo with GM. They can be cold.  Just the nature of the business.  I thought they could have told everybody a while ago.”  

He also says Metro Detroit will feel it, “It affects everybody. Not just GM. It has a trickle-down effect.”

But some say what is good for GM is good for Michigan.  

Glenn Stevens is Executive Director of Mich Auto and says, “A healthy, profitable, vibrant General Motors is not only good for Detroit and Michigan, it’s absolutely critical.  In 1980, General Motors had about a 63% US market share.  They have about 17% now.  Autonomy, electrification and mobility services that’s a real-world situation.”

President Trump and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan have both suggested GM retool the plants shutting down, including the Detroit Hamtramck “Poletown” plant.  

Fiat Chrysler did that just three years ago in Sterling Heights when it stopped making the Chrysler 200 and spent $1.4 billion to transform the plant to build hot selling Dodge Ram Pickups.  

“Change is happening right now.  And is a company that wants to stay ahead of the inflection point instead of being a victim of the inflection point,” says Stevens.