DETROIT — UAW officials hand-delivered more than 4,000 community letters addressed to General Motors leadership on Friday in another effort to reverse the automaker’s decision to end production at four U.S. plants in 2019.
Local communities rallied with the UAW after union officials encouraged them to participate in National Write to a Friend Month by writing letters to their “friends” at GM, pressing them to keep production in the U.S. Some people used the letters as an opportunity to describe how the idling of plants will affect their families.
“It’s going to impact the community,” Doris Parnell, a retiree from the Detroit-Hamtramck plant from UAW Local 22, told Automotive News. The 66-year-old said the plans will tremendously impact her son’s family, as he may have to relocate if the plant closes.
She also referenced a GM layoff she faced in 1987 and the efforts made to keep the plant viable a few years later when Barra served as the plant manager. “We did what we were supposed to do when you were plant manager at our plant and did what we had to do to make GM survive,” she said, addressing Barra and referring to the automaker’s 2009 bankruptcy restructuring. “Mary, have you forgot about the family?”
Barra was plant manager at Detroit-Hamtramck in 2003-04, her LinkedIn profile says.
UAW members met with Santa Claus — who had wrapped presents filled with the letters — at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, housed with GM’s headquarters in Detroit.
GM disclosed in November that it would end production next year and not allocate any new products at North American plants including Detroit-Hamtramck, Oshawa Assembly in Ontario and Lordstown Assembly in Ohio. Additionally, powertrain plants in Warren, Mich., and Baltimore don’t have products assigned after next year.
GM has repeatedly said most, if not all, employees impacted by the restructuring should find jobs at other GM operations, where 2,700 jobs are open.
The letters to GM come after UAW officials and about 50 to 60 employees gathered outside Detroit-Hamtramck on Thursday to show their support to the plant’s workers and families. GM’s restructuring plan puts the plant’s approximately 1,500 employees at risk of indefinite layoff, retirement or transfer to another plant.
Simultaneously, Canadian union Unifor met with GM executives at the company’s Renaissance Center headquarters to weigh in on why the automaker should keep the Oshawa plant open. After the meeting, GM said it will respond by Jan. 7 to their proposals to keep the plant open. The plant builds the Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac XTS sedans, both of which GM plans to eliminate from its North American lineup, and partially assembles outgoing models of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size pickups.
The UAW officials’ effort to deliver the letters in Detroit follows a campaign by the Lordstown plant with its local chamber of commerce, which resulted in over 5,000 schoolchildren writing letters pressing Barra to keep production in Ohio active.
Reuters and Automotive News staff contributed to this report.