JANESVILLE — The announcement by General Motors that it would close several plants in the U.S. and Canada, along with laying off thousands workers, has caused an uproar across the country.
According to a press release on Monday, Mary Barra, CEO of GM, said the company needs to “stay in front of changing market conditions and customer preferences to position our company for long-term success.”
“These actions will increase the long-term profit and cash generation potential of the company and improve resilience through the cycle,” Barra said.
President Donald Trump tweeted he was “very disappointed with General Motors and their CEO Mary Barra, for closing plants in Ohio, Michigan and Maryland.”
Trump goes on to say on Twitter, “The U.S. saved General Motors, and this is the thanks we get! We are now looking at cutting all GM subsidies, including for electric cars.”
The president was referring to the $30 billion bailout plan the federal government implemented for GM in 2009 to bring the company out of bankruptcy.
The company’s latest restructuring includes plans to lay off 15 percent of GM’s workforce, which is just under 15,000 workers.
Janesville’s bitter memories
Perhaps no city understands the impact of the loss of a GM plant more than Janesville, which had a plant close 10 years ago. The plant closure’s effect on the community was well documented in the press nationwide and even was the subject of a PBS documentary.
Republican Congressman-elect Bryan Steil, who is a resident of Janesville, said he “saw firsthand the effects this had on our community,” of GM leaving.
“My friends and neighbors lost their jobs, home values decreased, and wages were stagnant across the board,” Steil said. “The impact that job loss has on a family goes well beyond even the painful financial damage, as it impacts relationships, community involvement, and mental health.”
Steil was elected to Congress in November and will be replacing House Speaker Paul Ryan, also of Janesville, who represented Wisconsin’s 1st District for nearly 20 years.
Remembering the loss of the Janesville GM plant, Steil said, is why he ran for office.
“I want to work every day in Congress to avoid losses like that in our community and to help our families get the skills, education, and training they need to thrive if it ever happens here again,” Steil said. “I will use my background working in manufacturing and education to stand up for American workers.”
To assist those communities that “fall on hard times,” Steil said Congress needs “pro-growth policies to bring new jobs and higher wages.”
The Journal Times reached out to Ryan’s office multiple times for comment on GM’s announcement, but received no response.
“I want to work every day in Congress to avoid losses like that in our community and to help our families get the skills, education, and training they need to thrive if it ever happens here again.” Bryan Steil, congressman-elect