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GM plans to close West Chester center, move work, union employees to Michigan

Leaves tough decision for workers
Posted at 10:57 AM, Nov 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-01 19:42:52-04

WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- To stay or to go?

General Motors is moving more than 200 jobs from West Chester to Burton, Michigan, a suburb of Flint.

That’s forcing employees to chose between moving and losing their job. 

Brian Martin works at GM and is the president of Union UAW Local 696.  Martin says it’s a tough choice for workers.

“Obviously no one wants to leave town and move four hours away,”  said Martin.

“People are struggling. They want to know where they’re going to be.”

The union said the company is making the move to save money on logistics. 

Martin has worked for GM for 20 years, and this isn’t the first time his facility was shut down. 

First, there were the brake plants in Dayton. In 2008 most of those jobs were outsourced to Mexico. 

Remaining employees were transferred to new facilities in West Chester and Trotwood, Ohio. 

But those wouldn’t last long either. Martin says Trotwood shut down in 2015, and his processing center on Meridian Way will move to Michigan next September. 

“So we’ve just been dwindling, I guess, since around 2008,”  Martin said.

West Chester officials say they’re disappointed to see GM leave.

“Families are affected, their jobs, their livelihood, we’ll work with the state - Jobs Ohio - to maybe find some more work options for those employees,”  said township spokesperson Barbara Wilson. 

But the township doesn’t expect the move to have a big impact on the local economy.  For one thing, West Chester doesn’t collect earnings tax. For another, businesses are still moving in. Kemba Credit Union, announced Wednesday that it is building its headquarters in West Chester, which it expects will create 40 new jobs. 

“We’re not tied to any specific industry and West Chester represents more than 50,000 jobs,” said Wilson. 

The GM building shouldn’t be empty for long, Wilson said.

“We have a 96% occupancy rate of this type of space in the township, so we’re optimistic that it will be filled by another great company,”  Wilson said.

That leaves the workers to ponder their fate.

As for Martin and his wife, who also works at GM, they’ve already made the decision to move. 

But for others it’s not so easy. Some have spouses with good jobs, some have custody contracts that prevent them from moving, and there’s the worry that it’ll happen again. 

“They never worry about logistics when they want to move all our work to Mexico and ship it back up here," Martin said. "but they’re worried about a little bit of logistics to go from Ohio to Michigan. So that kind of hurts."