Back on April 30th President Obama made is now famous speech announcing the Chrysler bankruptcy. His speech ended with a rosy promise for all involved with the auto giant:
As pleased as I am about today’s announcement and about the opportunity Chrysler has to remake itself, we know that far too many Americans and far too many communities are still struggling as a result of layoffs not only at plants that produce cars, but at the businesses that produce the parts that go into them and at the dealers that sell and repair them. …
…Now, these are challenging times for America’s auto industry and for the American people, but I am confident that, if we as a nation can act with the same sense of shared sacrifice and shared purpose that’s been shown by so many of Chrysler’s stakeholders, if we can embrace the idea that we’re all in it together, from the union hall to the boardroom to the halls of Congress, then we will succeed not only with Chrysler, we will not only see our American auto industry rise again, but we will rebuild our entire economy and make the 21st century another American century.
Gee that sounded like everything would be wonderful right? Later that day when Chrysler submitted its plan to the court, they announced that some of the manufacturing plants would be closing:
In court documents, Chrysler said it would close the Sterling Heights, Mich., plant that makes Chrysler Sebrings and Dodge Avengers, and the Conner Avenue plant that makes Dodge Vipers in Detroit.
The St. Louis North plant that makes Dodge Ram pickups would also close.
Chrysler’s Twinsburg, Ohio, parts stamping plant and Kenosha, Wis., engine plant would also close.
Two other plants that will be left out of the Fiat sale are the St. Louis South plant and an assembly plant in Newark, Del., that were idled last year.
There are some in Congress who feel that they were misled by the President’s announcement and have filed a bill requesting all the communication between the administration and the auto company:
Steve LaTourette demands White House answers on Chrysler
by Stephen Koff / Washington Bureau Chief
Thursday May 21, 2009, 2:24 PM
WASHINGTON — Congressman Steve LaTourette today introduced legislation that demands the White House better explain why it painted a positive portrait of Chrysler’s future for all communities, only to be contradicted hours later with news of plant closings.
“Many people feel misled by this entire process,” said LaTourette, who with other Congress members, governors and mayors believed from President Barack Obama’s April 30 announcement that no permanent plant closings were planned.
Obama that day announced a short-term Chapter 11 bankruptcy for Chrysler in exchange for government aid, saying, “It will not disrupt the lives of the people who work at Chrysler or live in communities that depend on it.”
Obama, his automotive task force and Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli that day separately described some temporary steps needed to restructure the automaker and help it merge with Italian car maker Fiat. None of the parties mentioned permanent plant closings. Twinsburg officials, as well as those in other locations, only learned a day later that the thick bankruptcy filing contained plans to permanently shutter five Chrysler factories, including the Twinsburg Stamping Plant.
Reacting to outrage from LaTourette and others, Nardelli soon apologized. But LaTourette is not satisfied.
Congressman Dennis Kucinich, a Cleveland Democrat, already has demanded further information from Chrysler, including any transcripts of conference calls between the company and public officials, and he left open the possibility of demanding the same from the White House. LaTourette, a Bainbridge Township Republican, is not waiting for that possibility.
He introduced legislation today demanding that the administration provide all information it has regarding the closing of Chrysler plants and 789 dealerships nationwide. If successful, his resolution would force the White House to provide all documents, records and communications regarding scheduled Chrysler plant closings that were not divulged by the administration or Chrysler until the plant names appeared in a bankruptcy filing, LaTourette’s office said.
“I appreciate that the Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli has had to issue multiple apologies, but that doesn’t excuse a process shrouded in secrecy and misinformation,” LaTourette said.
Just days before the bankruptcy filing, the local United Auto Workers union had approved a new contract made in order to keep the 1,250-worker Twinsburg plant open. Union members approved it by an 88 percent margin, LaTourette noted.
“I don’t think it’s logical that you’d vote by an 88 percent margin to kill your job and close your plant,” LaTourette said. “There’s nothing more disruptive to a community than losing its largest employer. If this was the plan all along, fine, but I believe it was intentionally kept from key stakeholders and that’s not right. Let’s find out who knew and when and why it wasn’t shared.” Early co-sponsors of LaTourette’s bill are Republican Reps. Thaddeus McCotter of Missouri, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Pat Tiberi of suburban Columbus, Dan Burton of Indiana, Glen W. Thompson of Pennsylvania, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and and Peter J. Roskam of Illinois.