—– By: Ann Costantino —–
In an effort to preserve GM’s presence in Baltimore County after the auto manufacturer decided late last month that it may close its White Marsh manufacturing facility, County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Jr. reached out to GM CEO Mary Barra yesterday and asked her to reconsider — or at least consider alternatives to vacating the Baltimore County plant, altogether, potentially leaving 300 high-performing employees jobless and the company’s manufacturing facility empty.
“I respectfully request that GM find a product or alternative use for the plant that will keep all 300 of those employees working in Baltimore County. I understand that according to GM’s own corporate metrics, the employees at White Marsh are among the top performers across the entire company,” Olszewski said in a letter he sent to Barra yesterday.
In that letter, Olszewski underscored GM’s importance to Baltimore County and what he said was a “state-of-the-art” manufacturing facility in the Baltimore region.
General Motors employs 63 salaried and 252 hourly workers, and paid those employees over $33 million in wages last year. Employees paid $7.3 million in state and local income taxes, according to the company’s website. But Barra says the company is considering the closures due to refocusing resources due to “changing customer preferences.”
Olszewski’s wants GM’s skilled workers to remain in Baltimore County.
“This facility has been an anchor and source of pride within our County since it opened in 2000,” Olszewski said. “The facility’s importance to the region became even more significant upon the opening of the $245 million electric motor facility in 2012. Hundreds of millions of federal, state, and local dollars have been invested since its opening and it has been lauded as a ‘state of the art’facility that embodied American resiliency in the wake of the great recession,” he said.
The GM Baltimore Operations plant in White Marsh produces the Allison A1000 transmission for both the Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD and 3500HD and GMC Sierra 2500HD and 3500HD, and the electric drive motors for the Cadillac CT6 PHEV.
The plant also previously produced electric motors for the Chevrolet Spark EV and other GM vehicles, such as the Chevrolet Astro and GMC Safari vans.
GM made the announcement to “unallocate” the White Marsh facility one week before County Executive Olszewski was sworn in as Baltimore County executive. One week later, he is asking GM to keep its White Marsh facility in place.
Maryland is among four other plants located in Michigan, Ohio Canada being considered for possible closure.
“While we are bracing for a possible closure, I would like to reiterate my strong request to maintain operations at the White Marsh facility,” Olszewski said in his letter to Barra. “We know that Eastern Baltimore County is one of the most competitive areas for manufacturing on the East Coast with our highly skilled workforce and proximity to transportation network,” he said. “I wanted to make sure that the leadership at GM understands the importance and value of this facility to their bottom line and to Baltimore County.”
Olszewski’s full letter can be viewed here.
The Baltimore Post reached out to GM for a comment on Olszewski’s plea and is awaiting a response. In a press release last week, the company’s CEO said, “I reiterated to all members I met with this week from Michigan, Ohio and Maryland that many hourly employees at the impacted U.S. plants will have the opportunity to work at other U.S. GM plants and that we are committed to working with them to minimize the impact on the communities,” Barra said. “I also informed them that all salaried GM workers impacted by these actions are being offered outplacement services to help them transition to new jobs.”