Lordstown: Some Good News About Jobs

I know that three topics dominate the 24/7 news cycle: Toyota, Tiger and health care. But from my perch on the treadmill belt, getting people back to work — and creating good jobs for those young people and others who want to enter the workforce — remain the key issues. And clearly, those issues aren’t going to be resolved anytime soon.

First instance, Janet Yellen, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, this week joined the chorus of those pointing to the possibility of a jobless recovery. As reported by the NYT — “She predicted that unemployment, now at 9.7 percent, would fall to 9.25 percent by the end of the year and 8 percent by the end of 2011.” Sigh.

Unlike the Jameson I was sipping while reading that article in the dead-tree edition of the NYT, those numbers are hard to swallow.

Yet at about the same time, I glanced from the paper and watched a TV news report that had some good news. GM announced it was adding 1,200 jobs to its Ohio manufacturing facility at Lordstown, near Youngstown. That’s great news for some currently laid-off GM workers, for others looking for work and certainly for the local economy.

Here’s the story from this morning’s Akron Beacon Journal.

What adds to the interest of this story is that Lordstown — in the midst of tough times — has become a model for employee-employer relations and cooperation. And something tells me that this played a role in GM’s decision to add jobs at the facility.

Here’s from a NYT article written in January, “A Once-Defiant U.A.W. Local Now Focuses on G.M.’s Success“:

LORDSTOWN, Ohio — For the better part of three decades, the car plant here was a seemingly endless source of trouble for General Motors.

In the 1970s, the factory’s 7,000 workers were so bitter toward management that thousands of Chevrolet Vegas rolled off the assembly line with slit upholstery and other damage. The hostility eventually led to a 22-day strike in 1972 that cost G.M. $150 million, and the term “Lordstown syndrome” became shorthand to describe rebellious American factory workers.

So as we continue to work our way out of this terrible recession and period of high unemployment, let’s consider Lordstown some very good news about jobs.

And maybe working together toward common ends really does matter in the long run.

Let’s see if this applies to the current debate over health care reform as well.

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