Why the US government should keep General Motors competitive, solvent

Rep. Tim Ryan on Sunday reflected on voting to bail out the auto industry nearly a decade ago, after General Motors announced late last month that it would close plants and cut jobs, including at a facility in the district he represents.     

“At the end of the day, we had to save the American auto industry,” Ryan, D-Ohio, said during an interview on “Sunday Morning Futures.” “We have tens of thousands of people getting pensions from General Motors. And I have seen what happens to workers when they end up in a bankruptcy court. They're the last ones in line. So we have got to keep General Motors competitive and solvent.”

GM, the largest U.S. automaker, said it would close three North American assembly plants and cut 15 percent of its salaried and salaried contract workforce in the region, which will cost more than 14,000 jobs. Two other plants in Maryland and Michigan will be “unallocated,” and the company plans to end production of some slower-selling models.

“The actions we are taking today continue our transformation to be highly agile, resilient and profitable, while giving us the flexibility to invest in the future,” GM CEO Mary Barra said in a statement at the time of the announcement. “We recognize the need to stay in front of changing market conditions and customer preferences to position our company for long-term success.”

GM’s cuts hit close to home for Ryan, as one plant that will shut its doors is located in Lordstown, Ohio, part of the state’s 13th congressional district that he represents. That plant, which produces the Chevrolet Cruz (which will be discontinued after March 1, 2019), employs approximately 1,600 people.

“We have got to find another product to get into this facility,” he said. “It's a state-of-the-art facility in a great location with a great work force. So I hope we can work through it. But, at the end of the day, it's about those retirees that we have to protect."