WASHINGTON — General Motors Co. Chairman and CEO Mary Barra will meet this week with members of Maryland’s congressional delegation at the request of the lawmakers, who said the automaker’s decision to end operations at its White Marsh plant demonstrates "extremely poor corporate citizenship.”
The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday night in Washington, said Jaime Lennon, a spokeswoman for Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, the Baltimore County Democrat who was one of six delegation members who signed a letter Monday to the company.
GM spokesman Patrick Morrissey would not confirm the meeting date, but said in an email: “I know there are plans/schedules being developed for separate meetings with members from different states.”
The White Marsh transmission and electric motor plant, which is in Ruppersberger’s district, employs about 300 people. Workers there were told a week ago that the plant will not receive any new work after April. The company’s decision surprised and angered not only Maryland’s federal lawmakers, but state and local officials, who said GM gave them no warning about the decision.
The move is a small part of a massive restructuring of the 110-year-old company that includes ending production at five North American plants and laying off up to 14,000 factory and white-collar workers.
Maryland lawmakers challenged the White Marsh decision in their letter.
“We believe that White Marsh’s highly skilled workforce, modern facility and experience with production lines, from electric motors to transmissions, can and should be repurposed to meet GM’s new business objectives,” the letter said.
The company said it’s making cuts to be more efficient and is shifting more resources to light trucks, crossovers, SUVs and electric vehicles.
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The letter was signed by Ruppersberger, U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Reps. Elijah Cummings, John Sarbanes and Jamie Raskin. All are Maryland Democrats.
Their letter said that closing a productive plant — when the company has received “significant public assistance” and reported healthy third-quarter profits — “is an example of extremely poor corporate citizenship.”
GM opened the White Marsh plant in 2000. Its operations are made up of two units: a 471,000-square-foot transmission factory and a 110,500-square-foot addition that has made electric motors since it opened in 2013 at a cost of $245 million.
Last week, Ruppersberger wrote to President Donald Trump seeking his help.
The president made his position known on Twitter.
“Very disappointed with General Motors and their CEO, Mary Barra, for closing plants in Ohio, Michigan and Maryland,” he wrote. “Nothing being closed in Mexico & China. The U.S. saved General Motors, and this is the THANKS we get! We are now looking at cutting all @GMsubsidies, including….. ….for electric cars. General Motors made a big China bet years ago when they built plants there (and in Mexico) - don’t think that bet is going to pay off. I am here to protect America’s Workers!”
Taxpayers saved the Detroit automaker a decade ago from collapse with a $51 billion bailout.