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Another Black Monday in Mahoning Valley

When the GM Corporation announced the shutdown of the GM Lordstown Assembly plant, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, called the news a "new Black Monday in the Mahoning Valley," a reference to the day in September 1977 when the closure of one of the Valley's largest steel mills was announced (Source: The Vindicator, 3/27/19). GM closed the plant on March 6, throwing 1,500 autoworkers out of work. These workers now join thousands of their neighbors laid off in years past. Lordstown is just outside Youngstown. On September 19, 1977-41 years ago-"Youngstown Sheet and Tube (S&T) announced that it would close its Campbell Works Mill, laying off 5,000 steelworkers. Known as 'Black Monday,'

GM's Layoff Lesson: It's time for a manufacturing strategy that helps workers, not sharehold

Earlier, General Motors made headlines when it announced the closure of five major factories and the elimination of more than 14,000 jobs. For many Ohio and Michigan families preparing for the holiday season, the news was a dark reminder of the recession that crippled the state’s economy in the early 2000s. Unfortunately, the response from many policymakers has been equally dismal. As debates around tariffs and profit margins abound, few of the nation’s top lawmakers have stopped to ask a seemingly obvious question: What about GM’s workers and their communities? The GM layoffs should be a wake-up call—if an overdue one—to policymakers that the U.S. needs a manufacturing strategy that puts at


General Motors recently announced large-scale plant closures and layoffs, with top executives claiming the company needs $4.5 billion in savings to stay alive. This week the legendary Lordstown manufacturing plant in Ohio will close. But GM has given over five times as much money — $25 billion — to Wall Street hedge funds and other investors in the past four years, including over $10 billion in controversial stock buybacks. And GM recently authorized even more stock buybacks: it’s possible that every single dollar “saved” from job cuts and plant closures will go straight into the pockets of hedge fund billionaires and Wall Street. In 2013, GM completed the taxpayer-funded bailout that kept

Walmart and the Push to Put Workers on Company Boards

In 2000, Cynthia Murray started working as a fitting-room associate at a Walmart store in Laurel, Maryland, and she still holds the position today. “I take all the calls that come in. I take care of the customers. I do returns,” Murray, who is in her early sixties, told me recently. “I do a little bit of everything in the store. I’m always around the fitting-room area, but sometimes I have to go to customer service, and there are seven departments I separate returns for. If you call the store, I’m the one that you get. If you need a manager, I use a walkie that I have to find one. I help customers if they have issues.” Murray grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and was raised by a single fa

All A-Board! The Movement for Commonwealth Companies Is on the Tracks!

The push to seat workers on corporate boards is becoming a movement. As my co-author Annie Malhotra and I wrote in The Commonwealth Company (a pending chapter in a forthcoming “Many Futures of Work” book) we need to balance the power of shareholders with the rights of stakeholders. Or, align the rights of shareholders and stakeholders, in the language of capital stewardship. The fight for workers to participate in the governance of companies, and to make the boss more accountable--is gaining steam. In this Expresso, we re-post the Commonwealth piece and plug a cool new shareholder campaign by CtW to add a worker to the Google board. But first, here’s a few mile-posts on the tracks: Senat

This investor wants to put an employee on Google’s board

When more than 20,000 Google employees staged a mass global walkout in November, the organizers published a list of demands that included, among other things, an end to forced arbitration in harassment and discrimination cases, a commitment to end pay inequity and the appointment of an employee representative to the company’s board of directors. Now a shareholder has taken up that fight. CtW Investment Group, a group that works with union-sponsored pension funds, filed an unusual proposal late last year at Alphabet, Google’s parent company, that calls for the board to nominate a nonexecutive employee to be elected by investors as a director at next year’s annual meeting. If the proposal ends

Closure of General Motors’ Lordstown plant was not inevitable. It resulted from GM’s own mismanageme

An American flag drapes the hood of the last Chevrolet Cruze Wednesday as it comes off the assembly line at General Motors' Lordstown plant, where 1,700 hourly positions are being eliminated, perhaps for good. The factory near Youngstown is the first of five North American auto plants that GM plans to shut down by next year. CLEVELAND -- On Wednesday, the General Motors Corp. Lordstown plant closed its doors after producing its last Chevy Cruze. This closure was part of GM’s plan to lay off 14,000 blue- and white-collar workers. Many experts called the decision unfortunate but natural: The cars made in these plants aren’t selling well, and GM needs money to invest in electric vehicles and ca

From $22 an hour to $11: GM job cuts in Ohio show a hot economy is still leaving parts of America be

LORDSTOWN, Ohio — Scott Mezzapeso had to do something last month he never imagined: call his ex-wife and warn her that he might not be able to pay child support on time. Mezzapeso has a tattoo of his daughter on his left arm and rarely misses her high school softball games, but money has become extremely tight. General Motors is shuttering its plant here, and Mezzapeso is one of roughly 5,400 casualties. Mezzapeso earned $22 an hour with good benefits at Magna, a GM supplier that made seats for the Chevy Cruze, but he was laid off last summer as the auto giant scaled back Cruze production and suppliers did the same. Now he makes $11 an hour working part time at Bruno Bros. Pizza, the only jo

UAW sues GM over plans to 'unallocate' 3 plants before contract expires

The United Auto Workers is suing General Motors Co. over the automaker's plans to stop production at three U.S. plants before the current labor contract expires later this year. The lawsuit filed by the UAW Tuesday in Ohio accuses GM of violating the terms of the 2015 UAW-GM national contract, specifically the Plant Closing and Sale Moratorium outlined in the agreement. The union is seeking to keep Lordstown Assembly, Warren Transmission and Baltimore Operations running at least until the existing agreement between the UAW and GM expires in September. All three plants are slated to stop production in the coming months, with Lordstown the first to close its doors on March 8. The automaker's D

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