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GM Worker Welcomes Return to Flint

By Sheri L. Stuart, Staff Writer 

Clayton Jackson had plans to work four more years and retire from General Motors at age 62.  Now, he’s not so sure that will happen. Jackson is among the workers at GM’s Detroit- Hamtramck Assembly Plant who received the news last November that the plant would be closing in 2019 as part of a restructuring.  GM’s announcement was met with shock and anger by some who said they felt betrayed by the automaker.

“I don’t know if it was my faith in God.  I wasn’t so distraught like some of my co-workers.  My mother always told me that if you do your job, you’ll have nothing to worry about.  I try to give 110 percent every day,” he said.

The Hamtramck plant is one of two Detroit area plants slated for closure. Also on the list is the Warren Transmission Plant.  Other plants closing include the Oshawa Assembly Plant in Oshawa, Ontario, the Lordstown Assembly in Warren, Ohio and the Baltimore Operations in White Marsh, Maryland.

Jackson, a skilled tradesman, previously worked at Buick City before being transferred to the Detroit-Hamtramck Plant in 1999.  Since then, he’s made the daily commute from his Flint area home for his third shift in the paint shop.  He said he’s hopeful that his years of seniority will work in his favor and that his request to transfer to one of GM’s Flint operations will be granted.  Still, he won’t know for several more weeks what will happen with his request.  He said he doesn’t think the ‘younger’ workers will be so fortunate.

“Morale on the floor is not good.  Workers with five years or less are probably worried,” he said.

UAW leaders said hundreds of workers will have to transfer to plants outside of their home-state to keep their jobs.  Jackson said that’s not an option for him.

“My father passed away last year. My mother is in her 80s so I don’t want to leave her here alone. If I don’t get the transfer, I’ll have to retire and find another job in this area,” he said.

Jackson said he’s not angry about GM’s decision to close the plants but believes things could have been handled differently.

“Anger is a strong word for me.  I think the way the announcement was handled was unfair.  The workers didn’t have any say in the decision.  I’m hopeful though that everything will work out alright,” he said.

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