GM plans to make new electric car, spend $300M, hire 400 workers in Lake Orion

Two UAW workers at GM's Orion Assembly plant where GM builds its Bolt EV and the self-driving test cars.

U.S. manufacturing cuts, General Motors said Friday it plans to spend $300 million to build a new electric car at its Orion Assembly Plant north of Detroit and provided a vigorous defense of its U.S. manufacturing commitment.
GM said it plans to add about 400 workers at the Orion factory, which currently builds the electric Chevrolet Bolt, autonomous vehicles for GM's Cruise unit, and the Chevy Sonic compact car.
GM CEO Mary Barra made the announcement at a meeting involving UAW officials and a range of elected officials, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, who gathered at the 4.3 million-square foot plant in Lake Orion, which employs about 1,166 people. 
"GM is absolutely committed to investing in and growing good-paying manufacturing jobs in the United States," Barra said, part of an implicit response to President Donald Trump's attacks on the company's move to idle its factory in Lordstown, Ohio.
Barra said provisions of the proposed new trade agreement among the United States, Mexico and Canada helped persuade GM that the vehicle should be built in the United States.A company statement said the announcement was part of GM’s "new commitment to invest a total of $1.8 billion in its United States manufacturing operations, creating 700 new jobs and supporting 28,000 jobs across six states."
Barra declined to release any details about the new EV or timing on the investment. A GM spokesman said the $1.8 billion investment will unfold over the next two to three years, likewise so will the investment in Orion.
Barra vigorously defended GM's U.S. investments during the announcement, but UAW leaders also told Barra and the Orion factory workers that the union will hold GM accountable. 
Orion hourly worker Chrissy Clason said the news is “wonderful. We always seem to get bad news.” She said when GM said it would idle four U.S. plants, it was scary and the investment in Orion provides “a little bit of job security for us.”
But GM's production cuts elsewhere loomed over the celebration.
Clason said her cousin worked at Lordstown and was lucky to get transferred to GM’s plant in Flint, which builds the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups.
The Detroit carmaker has been the target of harsh criticism since Nov. 26, when it announced its plan to idle five plants in North America this year and early next year, affecting some 6,200 jobs. GM has said the cuts are part of its restructuring — which also included cutting 8,000 white-collar jobs — and will save it $2.5 billion this year. The plants that were idled mostly build sedans, which have seen sales decline as consumers shift to buying SUVs and pickups.
Two of those plants are in Michigan: Detroit-Hamtramck, set to stop production in January 2020, and Warren Transmission, slated to idle this year. The D-Ham plant had built the Chevy Volt, an electric car with a gas-power generator backup, since it went into production in 2010. The Volt is among sedans GM is discontinuing.

UAW not satisfied

UAW leaders at the event did not let GM leadership off the hook. UAW Vice President Terry Dittes took the stage to thank Barra and GM for its new investment at Orion, but was quick to note, “There’s hardship among four of our other locations and we’ve made it clear we disagree with that.”
Dittes said the UAW will continue to work with GM to find a “solution for so many families who desperately need it.”
Later, Dittes told reporters that the UAW is limited for the time being on how it can help the factories GM looks to idle, noting: “The UAW doesn’t allocate product and those four locations will not be forgotten by the UAW.”
GM has said the ultimate fate of the plants will be determined in contract talks with the UAW this summer, in bargaining that most observers expect to be contentious.
Regarding contract negotiations, Barra told reporters after the announcement: “We want to have good discussions and that will be our focus, and I think when you’re able to demonstrate that the company is strong and you’re able to make investments, $300 million to create 400 new jobs, that’s where we have a lot in common.”
Asked about Trump’s tweets, Barra said, “What is important and where there are similarities, we believe in a strong manufacturing base. We want to create jobs, good paying jobs. We’re going to stay on that focus and I think that’s a common message.”
She said GM wants "every person at Lordstown to stay within the GM family,” but declined to comment beyond regarding her relationship with Trump.
“You’re all focused on that relationship,” Barra told reporters. “He has an agenda and it’s job creation. I very much want the company to continue to grow, to continue to invest in the United States. Not only did we announce we’d make the investment here but we’re investing $1.8 billion in this country. That’s on top of the last decade when we invested $22 million. So General Motors has been in the United States for a very long time and we will continue to be.”
Barra said GM still has 4,000 employees at four plants in Ohio, and noted that Ohio is second only to Michigan in GM presence. She promised announcements soon about more workers shifting to Ohio operations. 
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has repeatedly asked GM to either build a new vehicle at the Lordstown facility or sell the factory to another company that would.
GM officials have given DeWine no indication that they intend to build another vehicle there.
GM officials have said that they've received interest in the plant but have not shared details about which companies they might consider selling the plant to.
DeWine has asked GM to let them know as soon as possible so Ohio could craft an incentives package to match that company, spokesman Dan Tierney said.

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