Elon as Rescuer? Not for GM Workers, Barra Says

Shortly after General Motors announced its decision to end assembly work at two car-producing U.S. plants, Tesla CEO Elon Musk floated the possibility of a Silicon Valley rescue of either Detroit-Hamtramck or Lordstown Assembly.

Talks between GM and Tesla did occur, it turns out, but GM CEO Mary Barra doesn’t seem to think much of the chances of laid-off employees finding salvation in a Tesla intervention.

Speaking at an investor’s conference Friday, Barra said there had been a dialogue between the two automakers over use of GM’s soon-to-be-mothballed plants. However, the strong presence of the United Auto Workers in the Rust Belt — a union Musk openly despises — apparently brought the convos to a halt.

“There have been conversations in the past,” Barra said, according to USA Today. “But Tesla’s not interested in our workforce represented by the UAW, so really it’s a moot point.”

Musk doesn’t mince words when talking about the UAW. The Tesla co-founder blames the union for GM’s historic downfall and recession-era bankruptcy; meanwhile, Tesla workers in favor of unionization of Fremont’s workforce claim the CEO will do anything to keep UAW’s hands off his plant. Musk counters with the argument that, with proper pay and working conditions, no worker should desire union membership.

In a 60 Minutes interview in early December, Musk said of GM’s plants, “It’s possible that we would be interested. If they were going to sell a plant or not use it that we would take it over.”

Earlier, GM, as part of a sweeping streamlining effort, announced the discontinuation of six car models (Chevrolet Impala, Cruze, and Volt, Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac XTS and CT6) and the closure of the three plants building them. The plants go dark by the end of 2019. According to  Canadian autoworkers union Unifor, the automaker has no plans for returning product to Ontario’s Oshawa Assembly. As for Detroit-Hamtramck and Lordstown, GM hasn’t had much to say about the plants’ future.

Whatever that future is, Tesla likely won’t be a part of it.

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