Maryland lawmakers ask GM to reconsider White Marsh plant closing, return grant money

Members of Maryland's congressional delegation asked General Motors Co. on Wednesday to reconsider its decision to end operations at its White Marsh plant — or at least return more than $100 million in grant money it received for the facility.

Delegation members, including Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger — the Baltimore County Democrat whose district includes the plant — met privately in Washington with GM CEO Mary Barra.

Afterward, Ruppersberger released a joint statement with several delegation members, urging Barra to reconsider and asking the automaker to return about $115.5 million in federal, state and local grants dedicated to the White Marsh operation.

“If it insists on laying off the employees who helped it rebound from near-bankruptcy, GM should return these grants to the taxpayers by providing re-training and new opportunities to affected employees,” the statement said. “Additionally, absent a change of heart, we asked Chairman Barra to help find a new tenant for the facility that offers a manufacturing future for the community of White Marsh.”

The White Marsh plant employs about 300 people. Its operations consist of a transmission factory and an addition that has made electric motors since opening in 2013 at a cost of $245 million.

The cuts — part of a massive company restructuring that includes laying off up to 14,000 factory and white-collar workers — come a decade after taxpayers saved the Detroit automaker a decade ago from collapse with a $51 billion bailout.

In response to questions, GM released a statement by Barra, who also met Wednesday with members of Ohio’s congressional delegation. She meets with Michigan members Thursday.

“I share their concerns about the impact the actions we announced last week will have on our employees, their families and the communities,” she said. “These were very difficult decisions — decisions I take very personally. I informed the members 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. 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.”

GM has said it is shifting more resources to light trucks, crossovers, SUVs and electric vehicles.

The Maryland lawmakers said in their statement that the White Marsh plant should fit into GM's plans because it makes light-duty truck transmissions and electric motors.

"The plant is large, modern and situated in a community that wants to keep up its hard work," the statement said.

The statement was signed by Ruppersberger, U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, and Reps. Elijah Cummings, Steny Hoyer and John Sarbanes. All are Maryland Democrats.

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