Jack Morse’s feelings about the idling of the GM Lordstown plant in 2019 are both personal and professional.
The IBEW Local 573 business manager grew up in a “GM family.” His father worked there right from the start, he said.
“He was badge number 211,” Morse said, indicating he was among the first ones hired. “We were raised on those wages, and he retired from there. You can say I have a personal tie to the place.”
Morse takes it a step further, too, putting his money where his loyalties are by purchasing Lordstown-built products throughout his lifetime.
“My kids and I have always driven the cars that were made at the plant; Cruzes, Cobalts, Cavaliers, and I even had a Vega back in the day,” he added. “I do it to support the Local.”
Professionally, the union electricians Morse represents will feel the impact of the idled plant immediately. Many of whom work for ‘Joe’ Dickey Electric, which through a maintenance contract, supports the plant with 3-5 electricians on a daily basis.
Many NECA-IBEW Electricians member contractors have performed work at the plant over the years, and ‘Joe’ Dickey Electric’s history there is particularly significant.
“In the last few years alone, we installed a 2.2 megawatt solar field and upgraded 7,000 light fixtures inside the building to LEDs,” said Jamie Burdette, foreman, ‘Joe’ Dickey Electric, who’s been at the plant nearly every working day since 2004.
As for the plant’s impact on the local economy, the idling will certainly be felt in the building trades, Burdette said.
“For many years there would be two-week shutdown periods in July and December where the plant would do major projects that could involve 50-100 tradesmen per craft,” Burdette said. “During model changes it wasn’t unusual for electricians, pipefitters and millwrights to work steady for up to a year.”
Eric Carlson, president, ‘Joe’ Dickey Electric, said at its peak, when the Cruze came on line at the plant he had up to 250 electricians working.
“The idling won’t shut us down, but it definitely affects us,” Carlson said. “That plant affects so many peoples’ lives here in the Mahoning Valley. We all need to join together and get behind the effort to prove to GM that this is the place to build another vehicle.
“The Valley is behind you, GM Lordstown, and we’re willing to fight for the jobs.”