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Government and Politics




Workers at a Parma auto plant will be watching as President Obama visits that city today
The stamping plant is one that the federal auto bailout is credited with saving
by WKSU's KEVIN NIEDERMIER
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter
Kevin Niedermier
 
UAW Local 1005 President Steve Frammartino (at podium) praises President Obama's auto bailout that helped save Parma's G.M. stamping plant. Frammartino is flanked by Parma Mayor Tim DeGeeter (L) and the city's Clerk of Courts Martin Vittarti
Courtesy of Kevin Niedermier
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In The Region:

President Obama begins a two-day campaign swing today through Northern Ohio and into Pennsylvania. The “Betting on America” bus tour will highlight his efforts to support manufacturing jobs. His first stop is near Toledo, then Sandusky, and then onto Parma, where auto manufacturing has stabilized following the president’s auto industry bailout. WKSU’s Kevin Niedermier has this report on a Parma plant that’s a bailout success symbol.

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Parma’s largest employer covers nearly 2.5 milion square feet south of I-480. It’s the General Motors stamping plant where more than 1,500 people turn a thousand tons of steel each day into car doors and other parts. UAW Local 1005 President Steve Frammartino represents most of those employees. He says the plant probably would have closed without the auto industry bailout, and he thanks President Obama.

 “Hopefully we’re what he envisioned when he helped out GM.  A plant that stayed open and took in employees from plants that did close. They say for every auto worker, there’re eight other jobs, so hopefully we’re helping out the community with our tax dollars and the businesses up and down Chevy Boulevard and the City of Parma and Northeast Ohio.”

A $60 million upgrade
GM has spent $60 million modernizing the Parma plant, and is working on further upgrades.
The plant is unique in that many other stamping plants nationwide, including the Chrysler facility in Twinsburg, closed during the industry’s downsizing.

Most of the industry has moved away from centralized stamping plants, but Parma’s has remained vital by efficiently making many kinds of parts instead of only a few larger components.  Frammartino hopes the plant’s success will mean more jobs in the future, but he says he doesn’t know of any expansion plans at this point.

GM has announced that next year it’s moving some work from Parma to a new Texas plant.  But the company says the move won’t affect any jobs in Parma.  So the plant remains Parma’s largest employer, and Mayor Tim DeGeeter is grateful it’s still in business.

Lifting up the city
“There’re over 1,500 workers there, the wages are $126 million and the payroll taxes are about $27.3 million, so it’s very vital to our city.”

And according to Parma Clerk of Courts Martin Vittarti, the stamping plant generates a strong spinoff.

“We’re seen an uptick in jobs across the board in Parma. We’re a town also of construction workers, truck drivers, everybody is indirectly tied to the auto industry. When we think back to the fall of 2008 and going into 2009, the economy was slipping and impacting our city. And now with the auto industry being saved along with the supply industry, the entire city is being lifted up, it’s been a tremendous bonus.”

Unemployment below the average, but ...
Parma’s unemployment rate was 7.6 percent at this time last year, and dropped to 6.5 percent today. That’s below the state and national averages, and one of the best in Northeast Ohio.

But Parma resident Gary Wolf, who works in the appliance department at Sears, sees a different Parma.

“When the economy was better, when someone’s washer broke, they would buy a set. Now they just buy the appliance that breaks. They used to come in to do whole remodels, now they waiting until their appliance breaks. ... I think the entire retail industry is down right now, at least in this area. You can go to different areas where there’s more money, but this area is slow. When you drive down the road you see a lot of closed businesses that aren’t reopening.”

When President Obama comes to a Parma city park this evening, he’ll talk about his efforts to boost the nation’s economy, and what he would do if reelected. Wolf isn’t sure if the results of this year’s presidential election will have much impact on the economic situation he sees in Parma.

Before he gets to Parma, Mr. Obama's bus tour stops in Sandusky for an ice cream social. He'll then move onto Poland Friday morning before heading onto Pittsburgh.




MORE ON PRESIDENT OBAMA'S SWING THROUGH OHIO

President Obama is crossing northern Ohio today  on a tour touting American workers and his administration’s efforts to bolster manufacturing.

This evening, the president will stop in Parma, a city that leans heavily on a  General Motors stamping plant that probably would have closed without help from the federal auto bailout.

UAW Local President Steve Frammartino represents many of the stamping plant’s 15-hundred workers, and credits President Obama’s auto bailout for its survival.

FRAMMARTINO on bailout vs. bankruptcy
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Mitt Romney, the likely Republican presidential candidate, has argued that the auto bailout evolved into the managed bankruptcy he was advocating when he wrote a column in the New York Times in 2008 titled, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”

President Obama’s bus tour through Ohio also includes stops near Toledo and in Sandusky. On Friday morning, he’ll stop at an elementary school in Poland before heading to Pittsburgh.  

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