In a scathing op-ed penned yesterday in the Akron Beacon Journal, John DeGarmo, a decades-long employee of General Motors, called on President Trump to finally make good on his broken campaign promise to revive the auto industry across the Rust Belt. DeGarmo demanded action after he and others lost their jobs when the GM Lordstown plant in Ohio shuttered in March 2019.
“President Trump, you said you were going to protect American workers and bring back jobs to the Rust Belt,” DeGarmo said. “If you meant it, now is the time to act.”
In 2009, DeGarmo was forced to leave his previous post with GM in Michigan, after the closure of its plant in Lake Orion. DeGarmo then transferred to the Lordstown plant and settled in Ohio. DeGarmo noted that most members of his family, including his father, were long-time employees of GM and depended on the organization to sustain their life in the Mahoning Valley region in Ohio.
But DeGarmo wasn’t surprised when he finally received notice the Lordstown Plant would be closing its doors for good. He placed the blame squarely on the policies enacted by President Trump during his first term, who he said many of his friends supported in the 2016 presidential election with faith that he would make good on his promise to protect their jobs and communities in Ohio.
“Trump focused his campaign on American manufacturing. He said the new tax bill was supposed to encourage businesses to invest in American workers,” DeGarmo said. “It turns out when people said Trump’s tax bill would incentivize companies to invest overseas, they were right…His policies are causing irreparable damage to the very same people he campaigned to help”
Now, after decades of working for GM, DeGarmo is forced to leave his home, again, to go back to school to become an HVAC technician, a job which will pay a third of the rate of his previous position at GM.
“I had no option but to start over with a new trade where I will be making one-third of what I was making at GM,” DeGarmo said. “The economic devastation of GM’s departure affects our entire community, and surrounding communities, for generations. Local businesses that have been here for decades have shut their doors because it does not make financial sense to stay.”
DeGarmo’s sentiment about the current state of the manufacturing industry in the Midwest is accurate. Since President Trump’s inauguration, over 70,000 employees across Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin have been notified of plant closures and layoffs.