On Monday, General Motors announced its plans to lay off up to 14,000 workers and close five plants in the United States and Canada, with publications such as Time noting that the job cuts were driven by factors such as a greater focus on electrification and market trends favoring trucks and SUVs over cars. While lawmakers, including President Donald Trump himself, criticized GM’s plans in statements that followed the announcement, one of the automaker’s employees spoke to Vox in a recent interview, wherein she laid a good deal of blame on the president for the upcoming layoffs.
In a report published Thursday by Vox, the publication’s Alexia Fernandez Campbell interviewed 55-year-old Nanette Senters, an employee from GM’s Lordstown, Ohio, plant who — like her other coworkers — will be losing her job when the plant gets idled in March 2019. Senters, who had been working at the Lordstown facility for the past 20 years, described feeling “shocked” on Monday morning when she and her fellow employees were called into the break room to watch a video where a GM executive announced the plant’s imminent closure.
“There was a loud gasp,” Senters recalled.
“People started crying. All day long, people were crying. Then we just started getting angrier and angrier. We’ve done so much for this company. This is such an inhumane way to treat people.”
As pointed out by Vox, GM said that one of the reasons behind the mass layoffs is the lack of demand for vehicles like the Chevrolet Cruze compact, a model which is being manufactured at the Lordstown plant. A report from the Hill noted that the Cruze is set to be discontinued next year, and since GM has not assigned another model to the facility, this could lead to its permanent closure.
When asked by Vox‘s Campbell about whom she feels is responsible for the job cuts within GM, Senters explained that there’s “a lot of blame to go around,” but much of it falls on Donald Trump — whose administration, in August, released a proposal to freeze Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards at 2020 levels.
“The CAFE standard meant that you could produce small cars that are energy-efficient and that would kind of balance out the building of big trucks and gas guzzlers. Building the Cruze meant that GM could also build many big trucks and still meet fuel efficiency standards.”
Senters further opined that Trump’s “repeal” of the CAFE standard, as she described it, gave GM “more of an incentive” to deemphasize the Cruze — and other fuel-efficient models — and announce its restructuring plans.
Talking about Donald Trump’s recent threats to “punish” GM by cutting federal subsidies for its vehicles, mainly its electric cars, Senters told Vox about how the president’s statements have “divided the workforce horribly.” She added that she didn’t believe the promises he made at a recent rally, wherein he promised that he would “bring jobs back.”
As Senters also criticized Ford, Chrysler, Harley-Davidson, and other companies for outsourcing union jobs to other countries, she concluded her interview with Vox by saying that Trump has not “put his money where his mouth is” regarding the issue. She expressed hope that the president would do something about the situation, but also stressed that there has been an “assault on good-paying jobs” since he took office.
“What he’s doing is not translating into anything good for middle-class America,” Senters said.