GM, Lordstown, Earl- Ross discussed on Into America
To understand this circle of industrial life errands. Soccer people across the region who have lived through the ups and downs. And there's this one guy who is watching this story play out for years and business is closely tied to the health of Lordstown as I was getting ready to go down to the Mahoning Valley and talk to people and I said well you know where should I go. Where are the places I need to go and everybody said? Oh well you you gotta go to Ross's so yeah we're going to Ross's eatery and pub which is a local watering hall. That has has long been kind of a hang out for people who worked at the facility. We were there on Thursday afternoon around lunch and it really is one of those places that just seems to draw everybody. You know a wooden bar and kind of the back of the room you not of color and light. There's actually a lot of deer heads every one of them or we want them. And then we met earl- Ross and Earl Ross is one of those guys who just it's like. He was just meant to own a bar. I am one of the founding owners. And I'm a sole proprietor. Now my father and my sister and myself started at one thousand nine hundred seventy. What's changed since one thousand nine hundred seven? Oh what a roller coaster ride that has been. I had hair that change. There is almost ten thousand members working three Shifts General Motors. You know at seven. Am You get to third shifter's getting off they'd come over to eat at three? Pm You'd get the afternoon people or day people getting off and then at eleven pm. You shifter's getting off so three times a day. You had twelve hundred or thirteen. Fourteen hundred people driving through the community. All of these workers didn't lose their jobs overnight. The demise of the GM Lordstown plant was gradual as Chevy Cruz sales slowed GM cut one shift. Then another three thousand workers were laid off between January twenty seventeen in June two thousand eighteen president donald trump who campaigned on a pledge to bring back. All jobs held a rally in Youngstown in the summer of two thousand seventeen just twenty minutes outside of Lordstown. He told workers then they shouldn't worry. Let Me Tell You folks in Ohio under this area. Don't sell your house. Don't sell not salad. We're going to get does values up. We're going to get those jobs coming back. And Wigan a fill up those factories or rip them down a bill brand new ones. So it's going to happen but two years later. The plant shutdown. So who's to blame at the time? There were a lot of explanations batted around there was the impact of the trump administration's tariffs which increased the cost of producing vehicles. Gm pointed the car. Sales folks no longer wanted fuel-efficient starter. Cars like the Chevy Cruz they trucks and as vs and the company they wanted to be nimble to pivot to hybrid and electric vehicles and invest in self driving cars. But there were serious consequences. One study estimated that the closure could cost the region around eight billion dollars in overall economic activity that includes people like Earl Ross. Who told Erin that he depended on those? Gm workers for consistent business as he described it as just the rug being pulled out from under him and suddenly his revenues are down sixty percent and he's got to figure out a way to somehow make it work. The Punch in the gut was the going away party. Crafter going away party after going away party. You know he talked about how since the Lordstown plant closed. He's hosted at least a hundred going away parties in his bar them groups of twenty then groups of fifteen groups of forty coming here for their last drink their last celebration their last dinner before they leave town. Everything was the exact same thing. Can't believe it you know it's sad and then these families split up and these friends split up these people who grew up together riding bikes together in the Mahoning Valley. They got jobs together in the plant. They raise their children together with the wages they were getting from the plant they are from this community and then all of a sudden they're all having going away parties and they're leaving. You met a family that is still struggling with the loss of GM the money family. Tell me about your meeting with them. We met the money family who live in Niles Ohio which is not far from Lordstown. I'm Pauline Karen Claire. Nice to live in a lovely kind of suburban community on a on a street that had a lot of single family homes two car. Garages her having her. So there's Kevin Money Who works for GM his wife Holly? I work For our local city the city of Niles and Three kids Cole. Who's sixteen claire and Brooke and Jules who are thirteen year? Old Twins were identical. Yes well one of you need glasses. And the other doesn't yes tonight's house. We sat in the kitchen. Which was all decked out for Saint Patrick's Day holiday I decorated do. And what was life like for them before the plant closed. You know they describe it as this wonderful family. Life of the five of them together and Kevin. Money was the coach of his kids. Basketball team they talked about how he he loved to take. The family out for treats he just show up spontaneously. Hey kids let's go get a desert when the kids were little. I was able to be a stay at home. Mom with them he worked in. I was able to be home with them and until they went to preschool and then I started working after they were fulltime in elementary school sued. You have a sense you know ten years ago or five years ago that this was coming no no should. It felt like GM that job was going to be forever. We felt it was going to be. Yes yes we were comfortable with him going to work. A lot of people from this area were loyal to General Motors. What did they tell you about finding out about the planned closure so GM announced that it was closing the plant or on allocating Chevy Cruz from that plant in November of two thousand eighteen right then Kevin the applied for transfer. Any you know wanted to try to put himself as close to home as he could and he gets the job in Toledo two and a half three hours away and he gets the word they said right before Christmas he got the notice on December. Twenty second it was a Friday. He received it at work and that was Christmas weekend so he gets to notice it work. Does he call you know he waited to tell me that night? He just probably went into in the room late on the bed and shed some tears and then when I came home he said we need to talk in. We cried and cried My husband and I have a great relationship. He's my best friend and family. We always did everything together. We would sit and have dinner where we go out to dinner together. So just knowing that he wasn't going to be here every night. Go to bed or to have dinner together. We that was traumatizing. And then we held it from the kids until the day after Christmas and remember you described it. That Dad has to leave. Dad has to move away. We're going to try everything that we can to keep life as normal as possible for everybody. Tell your memory of that guy off ahead of slate feeling. Something was going on mainly because my dad's been down in his office at a lot prior to that date in the one day. I'm crying in there. And he ended up talking to me and he said he had put in for a transfer. I had to know why I had no clue or reasoning behind it but I knew something was happening. It was like somebody had honestly died. It the feeling felt like there was a death in the family. And they're actually a lot luckier than most because he's able to come home every weekend and be with his family but they had had this life that they loved. You know this this tight knit family that that did everything together when your husband is added to transfer I mean was there any consideration of quitting GM or. That wasn't something we we talked about all possibilities but for him to leave. Gm with twenty five years in and to walk away from a pension. Hopefully.