Lordstown

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A lot of people are looking to understand the forces that may be at work in this year’s presidential election. Author David Giffels believes Ohio holds the key to that. For his next book, he’s been travelling the state on his own listening tour.

This month, To Understand Ohio, we spent some time talking with Giffels about Congressman Tim Ryan’s short-lived bid for the White House, what that says about the Mahoning Valley and how that relates to the rest of the country.

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A banner reading "GM INVEST IN LORDSTOWN" hangs on the fence along the truck gate to the shuttered GM Lordstown Assembly Facility.
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This article was updated on January 14, 2020.

For a century, the Mahoning Valley has ebbed and flowed with the fortunes of traditional manufacturing. Now, it’s looking toward a new economy: one defined by distribution centers and autonomous and electric vehicles. What are the prospects for transformation.

In November, GM sold its Lordstown assembly plant to a new company called Lordstown Motors Corp., which is closely tied to another start-up called Workhorse Group Inc.

Lordstown Motors plans to build electric pickup trucks.

Here's some answers to questions you may have been wondering about when it comes to Lordstown Motors:

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YOUR VOICE OHIO

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The impeachment debate is drawing a big line between Republicans and Democrats. But the parties are working together on some bills. 

Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman is working on a bipartisan bill that he says would increase recycling. But he said voters don’t often hear about efforts like that.

“So much of the media is focused on controversy because, I guess, it sells," he said.

Lordstown UAW President Reacts to GM Plant Sale

Nov 8, 2019
Southwest end of the GM Lordstown facility
TIM RUDELL / WKSU

Former employees of the Lordstown GM plant may have new job opportunities as the facility changes hands.

UAW Local 1112 President Tim O’Hara says there’s been discussion to hire a few hundred union members for the new Lordstown Motors Corporation plant where an electric pickup truck will be built. They could also be paid similar wages to what GM offers.

He says the development will be good for the town, but it won’t help everyone. 1400 people had to relocate following GM’s decision to vacate the facility.

CARTER ADAMS / WKSU

Workers at the General Motors Lordstown assembly plant have built cars and a community for more than 50 years. Earlier this year, GM shuttered the plant, but hope had remained that it would not close permanently. GM’s new contract with union workers, approved Friday, dashed those hopes. 

WKSU joined workers on the picket line at the assembly plant last week for a final farewell to Lordstown.

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The sun begins to set in the early afternoon behind the General Motors Metal Fabrication Division in Parma, Ohio Tuesday, Sep. 17, 2019.
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United Auto Workers members in Parma voted to ratify a new contract with General Motors today.

Nearly 90% of the plant’s 950 workers voted. 52 percent approved the deal while 48 percent did not. 

UAW Local 1005 President Mike Caldwell says this narrow decision has to do with how the contract affects each worker. 

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A striking member of United Auto Workers Local 1005 walks in front of the General Motors Metal Fabrication Division in Parma, Ohio Tuesday, Sep. 17, 2019.
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Sheri Baker (left) talks with fellow UAW member Isaac Valle (right)
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Union leaders are looking through a tentative agreement between labor and General Motors that could end a strike that's lasted longer than 30 days. Democratic state lawmakers say they want legislation that would not only help union workers in any future strikes, but could benefit the workers of the current strike too.

House Democrats want to change the law that says striking workers don't receive unemployment compensation and food stamp benefits because they're considered to be people who are voluntarily leaving their jobs. And they’d make that retroactive.

David Johnson, United Auto Workers Union member for 46 years, poses for a portrait with a UAW ON STRIKE picket sign outside of the General Motors Metal Fabrication Facility, where he has worked for the last six years. Parma, Ohio Tuesday, Sep. 17, 2019.
CARTER ADAMS / WKSU

United Auto Workers (UAW) at General Motors (GM) are expected to vote this weekend on a tentative deal negotiators have reached with the company. UAW workers who lost their jobs when GM Lordstown shut down in March had hoped the national agreement would include a future for their plant. Sen. Rob Portman said it’s disappointing that it doesn’t.

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A striking member of United Auto Workers Local 1005 walks in front of the General Motors Metal Fabrication Division in Parma, Ohio Tuesday, Sep. 17, 2019.
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