BALTIMORE (AP/WJZ) — General Motors announced the company would lay off 310 workers at its White Marsh transmission facility as part of a cost-cutting move that saw more than 14,000 jobs eliminated across North America.
“I’m don’t want in any way to sugar coat this,” said Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler. “I’m disappointed in GM. I think they’re walking away from working men and women in Baltimore County.”
Mohler said the Eastpoint Career Center would provide assistance to the affected employees.
Governor Larry Hogan said he would “fight to keep those 300 jobs” and that he did not know why the Maryland plant was affected.
Many of the impacted plants produce vehicles being discontinued, including full-size sedans like the Chevrolet Impala, which are losing favor with buyers who favor crossovers and SUVs.
But the White Marsh facility produced transmissions for the company’s most popular sellers—its full-size trucks.
“This callous decision by GM to reduce or cease operations in American plants, while opening or increasing production in Mexico and China plants for sales to American consumers, is, in its implementation, profoundly damaging to our American workforce,” said the United Auto Workers’ Terry Dittes.
The union represents many of the workers in White Marsh. “GM’s production decisions, in light of employee concessions during the economic downturn and a taxpayer bailout from bankruptcy, puts profits before the working families of this country whose personal sacrifices stood with GM during those dark days. These decisions are a slap in the face to the memory and recall of that historical American made bailout.”
The announcement came as a surprise to Baltimore County leaders who said they got a phone call from GM executives Monday morning.
The plane opened in 2000 with a number of taxpayer incentives. A county economic development official said he believed General Motors had long ago fulfilled its obligations.
Its impact included more than $7 million in income taxes.
The facility was a favorite backdrop for politicians, including Hillary Clinton, who shook workers hands at a stop during her 2008 Presidential campaign. Clinton said then that the plant provided “jobs of the future” as she and former Senator Barbara Mikulski sang its praises.
Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, who represents the area and was integral in securing the plant two decades ago, tweeted “Hey #GM, when the American people invest in you, you owe it to the American people to invest in them – not Mexico and China. Also, this is what happens when the Administration’s trade + tax policies backfire. It’s not working for the American worker. The #GM plant has always been a source of pride for #MD02 + Baltimore County — it’s a modern manufacturing facility w/ a workforce to match. We stand ready to assist affected workers any way we can.”
General Motors has had a dwindling footprint in Maryland since the closing of its Broening Highway plant in Baltimore more than a decade ago. That land where that facility was located is now home to an Amazon warehouse.
County leaders see a future for the White Marsh facility and its workers. The county executive described them as “highly skilled” and “in demand.”
Longtime Baltimore County resident Joe Debole called the layoffs “a shame.”
“I’m from Baltimore. We’ve seen a lot of it over the years,” he said.
Another county resident, Bill Gillespie, lamented the loss of high-paying jobs. “There’s not that many good jobs left anymore. Not everyone can work at McDonald’s and support a family,” he said. “Plus, think of how much they’re losing in taxes. Think of who they’re going to tax instead: Me and you!”
The company’s stock price rose on the news.
GM expects to save $6 billion.