TOLEDO, Ohio — UAW Local 12 President Bruce Baumhower said earlier this month that he was concerned about Jeep possibly transitioning to electric vehicles because nearly half the workforce would be cut.
"People will lose jobs, you have plants that build the exhaust systems right now and people who build our radiators and all those different components that are not in those electric vehicles," Baumhower said.
Meanwhile, General Motors announced on Friday a $760 million investment into its Toledo Propulsions Systems facility on Alexis Road to produce drive units for electric vehicles.
GM Executive Vice President of Global Manufacturing Gerald Johnson said Friday that "tomorrow is changing."
"We're talking about an all EV future. It's out there in 2035 and we have to find our way across a transition," Johnson said.
Monique Jackson, who has worked at GM for 20 years, breathed a sigh of relief when the announcement was made.
"Today's announcement is a big change," she said. "I'm happy about it. I'm excited about it and I feel more secure."
While GM employees feel secure, concerns for Jeep continue to loom. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said he's not able to say anything is good or bad for Jeep's future.
"I don't have any announcement to make," DeWine said. "We just, certainly, are hopeful that these transitions can be made."
Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, who represents Ohio's ninth congressional district in the U.S. House, said different jobs will come to replace those lost with the transition. Since there's always going to be a demand for transportation, the loss shouldn't be anything more than a move to new opportunities.
"I think that (Jeep) will also excel. It is a European-based company with American partners and they know they have to re-tool," Kaptur said. "They're re-tooling their whole continent. I just returned from Poland. So there are going to be jobs in this industry but in a different way. There'll be a lot more, what we call, high tech."
Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown is admittedly concerned but also optimistic. He said optimism is high given GM's large financial announcement.
"I'm concerned and I've talked to Bruce (Baumhower) about that," Brown said. "This tells me (Stellantis) is probably as smart as GM. They understand these workers in this community, or near this community, will be productive. So, we work with these companies on these investments. Ohio's on a bit of a roll and I'm optimistic."