There’s nothing wrong with the Show Me State … but forced transfers are tough on a workforce.
“Around here the best stuff is $16 an hour, an hour, hour and a half from my house. Anything else is nine to 11 dollars, and that just doesn’t cut it. When I was working that before I started at GM, my credit cards just kept getting fuller and fuller just trying to make it.”
So Lincoln Fegley, a northeast Ohio native who worked at General Motors’ Lordstown plant until the company mothballed it a few months ago, took the forced transfer notice he was handed and moved his family to Wentzville, Missouri where GM makes vans.
That’s like 600 miles from his friends and family, and not an easy decision to make. But decisions like these are being made a lot. GM says it will provide positions for the 2,800 affected workers who want one, and says 1,700 of them have already done so.
Of course, though, it’s even more complicated than that: GM’s contract with the United Auto Workers (UAW) union is up, and negotiations on the next one begin in September. Reopening some of the plants GM closed in this round of restructuring is expected to be on the bargaining table.
So, if you’re an affected worker … what do you do? Volunteer to move?
Do sell your house, pack up your family, and move to a different time zone?
Or do you hope you don’t get a forced transfer notice (like the one Lincoln Fegley got)? Turn it down when it arrives and lose your unemployment benefits and the right to transfer to another GM plant closer to home?
Trying to game out whether to volunteer for transfer now or try to wait out the contract negotiations can be a complex, stressful decision.
“It’s like they’re asking you to go all in on a bet, but you can’t look at the cards,” said Dave Green, president of UAW Local 1112 at the Lordstown plant. “This is your livelihood, your family, your income. Do you go all in or do you wait and pass for the next hand? I can’t give anybody the right answer.”