It was recently announced, to the shock and outrage of the majority of the nation, that GM planned to shut down various plants in the United States and Canada. While it is saddening overall that these jobs were lost across both nations, one plant is of particular import to me: the Lordstown GM plant, which is in Ohio, where I spent a lot of my life.
This plant is home to 1,400 jobs, all of which would be lost in the event that the plant closed. While many politicians within the state have actively fought back, such as Tim Ryan and Sherrod Brown, others have shown indifference.
No one better demonstrates that more than President Trump who claimed that because he was president, that the plant closing wouldn't matter, and those jobs would be replaced in two minutes.
I know that this is hyperbole, but the real situation could not be further from what the President believes the situation is. These jobs won't be replaced immediately. Hell, they may not be replaced at all. That is the reality of the situation at hand.
Ohio is a state that, at least out east, has been heavily predicated on blue-collar work. Manufacturing, steel mills and coal mines have dotted the landscape out east, from Cleveland down to the banks of the Ohio River near West Virginia. As many cities and towns in this region began to lose those jobs, some cities could not or would not diversify economically and helped lead to a hemorrhaging of citizens from the area — especially in the Youngstown area — where the plant lies.
With so many people leaving, where is this investment into the region going to be coming from?
Manufacturing jobs have been trending downwards as more and more jobs become more automated, and the Steel Valley has been bereft of any significant investment in new jobs from these types of corporations. There is a good chance these types of union jobs will not return as a result of that alone.
Furthermore, as these types of jobs leave, there aren't many good paying jobs that do NOT require some type of higher education and more developed skills. That is not something Youngstown possesses in high volume (especially when compared to other Ohio cities like Cleveland, which significantly diversified and still lost a significant number of people). Youngstown, despite its strong entrepreneurial heritage and the Youngstown Business Incubator, is not a major center for an industry like it used to be.
The area isn't the headquarters for multiple Fortune 500 companies like Columbus, Cincinnati and Cleveland are. It no longer has the same pull or attractive forces that those three cities, and other cities in the Midwest, have. Youngstown, for all of its history, sits in an area that has been losing people, networking opportunities, and other resources for decades.
Combine that with the lost jobs and the well-publicized opioid epidemic gripping the state, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Simply put, the plant closing does matter. These 1400 jobs may not be replaceable, and their loss could throw the area into chaos. We must remember, however, that the fight is not over. We can still fight for these jobs. We must stand — for the workers at Hamtramck, the workers at the Canadian plants and the workers at the Lordstown GM plant.
These jobs matter. Call your representatives, senators and governors — especially if you are in Ohio.
Fight like hell for all of them.