After the meeting, Portman told reporters that Barra “is willing to keep an open mind” about re-purposing the facility, but “does not want to raise expectations.” He and Brown said they are pushing for GM to either move production from Mexico to Ohio or build one of their new electric vehicles there.
The lawmakers have “pushed [Barra] hard” about expediting GM’s decision on whether to shut down the plant, Brown said. The automaker has said it will stop making its Chevy Cruze model in Ohio by March.
Portman spoke to President Donald Trump and Labor Secretary Alex Acosta about keeping the plant open, he said. Trump has publicly pressured GM to keep its operations in the U.S., even threatening to pull all government subsidies for the company.
Barra was also scheduled to meet Wednesday with Maryland lawmakers, including Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, a Democrat. Barra’s scheduled to meet Democratic Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan, among other lawmakers, on Thursday.
GM said it plans to cut production at several plants in North America, including two in Michigan, one in Ohio, and one in Maryland. It’s also cutting back production in Canada.
The automaker has said the factories aren’t running at full capacity and are building mostly slow-selling and less-profitable cars. GM has said some of the 14,000 jobs may be shifted to other facilities, but labor leaders say they worry the move is a pretext to move more jobs outside the United States.
“It’s important for GM and Mary Barra to have very serious conversations with members,” Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., said in a statement Tuesday. “Honestly, they should be having these critical conversations more often so we can keep manufacturing jobs in the U.S.”