Editorial – Coming Together: Youngstown

On March 6, General Motors Co. Lordstown employees reported to work for what was believed to be the last time. In November of 2018, GM announced its plans to stop the production of the Chevrolet Cruze by this month and placed the plant on an “unallocated” standing. The loss of 1,256 private-sector jobs and an additional loss of 1,607 jobs due to the shutdown has hurt many workers and their families, forcing some to relocate, go to school for skilled trades and ultimately look for work elsewhere.

“It’s a very gut-wrenching, sad day for our members as they shoot in those last screws, hang those last tires and secure those last fasteners on the Chevy Cruze,” David Green, president of United Autoworkers Local 1112, said, according to The Business Journal. “It’s very difficult to wake up and not go to work after doing so for a couple decades or longer. It’s a terrible feeling.”

This is not the first time Youngstown has had a major blow to its jobs and economy. On Sept. 19, 1977, which has come to be known as Black Monday, Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co.’s 10,000 workers were permanently laid off. Since then, Youngstown has been known as a dying area, but the pride, loyalty and unity of Youngstown residents and leaders is still very much alive and remains as the driving force behind Youngstown’s revitalization and thriving culture.

Hard times in Youngstown have come and gone throughout the years, and the community has always pulled together for the good of the city and its people. Church services, rallies and help from local businesses are a common sight in times of hardship, and it is no different this time around.

On Monday evening, Cortland Trinity Baptist Church Monday held a prayer service for GM employees. The Eastwood Mall complex gave out $25 gift cards to all GM employees as a small token of gratitude. Lordstown teachers, staff and community members gathered in front of Lordstown High School, wearing blue and driving GM cars and trucks in support of GM Lordstown workers.

In times that matter most, Youngstown has always come together, put our differences aside and helped our own to put each other back on our feet. Although Youngstown is no longer the booming epicenter of steel mills and industry, it has a community of people fighting to keep the area alive through different communities and culture, such as art, heritage, education and so much more. While Youngstown can be less-than-perfect, our unity, resilience and loyalty to our home town is definitely something to be proud of.