Chrysler’s Job Cuts — Something Stinks Here

Great run this morning with the temp around 50 in NE Ohio. Even the dead nerve in my left foot cooperated as I made the five-mile tour of the neighborhood. And I was thinking about this. Why am I concerned about the 1,200 Chrysler workers who got the shaft last Friday when the company said it was shuttering its plant in Twinsburg, a community near Akron? Doesn’t appear that anyone else has his/her shorts in a knot over this.

A thousand jobs here. A thousand jobs there. Ho-hum.

Actually, kind of sad. But maybe one of the soon-to-be-unemployed workers, Richard Ramsey, put the situation in perspective. Here’s the lead to the Akron Beacon Journal story Saturday, “Plant Gets Ax.”

TWINSBURG: Richard Ramsey was surprised, but not angry, at Chrysler’s decision to close its Twinsburg plant that employs him and about 1,200 others.

”There’s nothing you can do,” said Ramsey, 62, an hourly worker from Alliance. ”Sitting around and arguing and pointing fingers — that’s not going to accomplish anything.”

True. Still, I think the way this announcement was handled stinks — and it diminishes the credibility of company and government officials at a time when employees and their families — and the public in general — deserve much better. And folks, somebody somewhere is sporting a nose these days that mirrors that of Pinocchio’s.

Here’s why.

Congressman Steven LaTourette, who represents the Twinsburg community on Capitol Hill, said he was told there would be no permanent plant closings associated with the Chrysler “belly up” status. Here’s from the story in The Plain Dealer:

WASHINGTON — With news that a bankrupt Chrysler LLC plans to close its Twinsburg stamping plant after all, Congressman Steve LaTourette says he is “beyond disappointed.” He also suggested that he and Twinsburg employees may have been misled by a number of officials, from Chrysler to the White House.

“I was briefed yesterday by top administration officials prior to the president’s national address about the future of Chrysler,” the Republican lawmaker from Bainbridge Township said in a statement. “Members of Congress on the call were assured that there would be no permanent plant closings, but the idling of some plants for 30-60 days could be announced later in the day by Chrysler. We were also assured that no jobs would be lost.”

LaTourette said that in addition to the briefing by White House officials, he also participated in a conference call yesterday with Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli, who “was asked specifically about plant closings in Ohio and Wisconsin, and the message was the same — no plant closings, no job losses.

Uh, “beyond disappointed.” Wow. He’s hot. Yeah, I’d say disappointed at the least — and I bet the employees involved and their families are even more so. And I bet they don’t trust much that they hear now or in the upcoming weeks and months from either Chrysler/Fiat management or the Obama administration. Here’s from a second Plain Dealer article:

News Friday that the Twinsburg plant could close by December 2010 stunned legislators, local government officials and – perhaps most of all – the union workers who this week approved a new contract that included provisions for bringing more work to the depleted stamping facility.

“I don’t know if I was told the whole truth on everything,” said Doug Rice, president of United Auto Workers Local 122. “I don’t feel like I was. It would be a shame if this was something that was known for some time. If they kept this back from people, that’s wrong. That’s wrong.”

Yep. It’s wrong. And it stinks.

And I’m surprised there hasn’t been more written and said about all of this. I may have missed it, but I didn’t seen anything in The Plain Dealer or Akron Beacon Journal Sunday. I’m not sure there is much to be done at this point to save a majority of these Chrysler jobs — or the ones that will be on the chopping block in the next few weeks at Government Motors. But couldn’t the people making the decisions at least display some integrity — and empathy?

Maybe this isn’t a big story. Or maybe there are just too many other things going on right now, from swine flu to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

But according to information on  Sen. Sherrod Brown’s Web site, more than 440,000 Ohio jobs directly or indirectly depend on the auto industry.

A thousand jobs here. A thousand jobs there. And the ones that leave ain’t coming back.

For those of us in Ohio and elsewhere facing the same loss of middle-class manufacturing jobs, that stinks.

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