June 3, 2008

GM announcement is 'gut-wrenching,' says Ryan

Update:Tuesday night, Sens. Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl and Rep. Paul Ryan sent a letter to GM CEO Rick Wagoner asking him to reconsider the decision to close the Janesville SUV plant and requested a meeting to discuss the possible retooling of the plant for different production lines. A copy of the letter is HERE.

Original post: Congressman Paul Ryan, R-WI, 1st District, a fifth-generation Janesville native, made the following statement in response to today’s announcement that General Motors will close it Janesville SUV plant by 2010:
“Today’s news is downright gut-wrenching for Janesville. Growing up and living in Janesville, this is something we’ve always feared. First of all, my thoughts and prayers are with the workers and their families, many of whom I’ve grown up with and am still close friends with. If GM’s plans are fully carried out, this would be a big psychological and economic blow to our community and our state; but Janesville will survive this, because we simply have to survive this. As I have witnessed time and again, I have faith that our community will pull together to support one another in the difficult days ahead. It is my hope that as this 2010 shutdown date approaches, Janesville will be in a better position to reverse this decision.”
Ryan said he will work closely with union leaders, GM officials, and members of the Janesville community to support those hit hardest by the closure.

Sen. Herb Kohl, D-WI, issued the following statement:
“It’s a tragedy that General Motors plans to close its plant in Janesville, leaving behind thousands of skilled and dedicated employees. The community of Janesville depends on these jobs, and I will do everything in my power to convince General Motors to reconsider their decision or help their employees find new work.

“Today I’m urging officials at the Labor Department to make job training and transitional assistance for GM’s employees readily available. The people at the Janesville GM plant are second to none, and I hope that GM supports these employees with the same loyalty and commitment that these men and women have brought to the job everyday.”
And Sen. Russ Feingold, D-WI:
“For generations, the people of Janesville have poured their heart and soul into General Motors and have proven to be an incredible asset for the company. GM should immediately take steps to ensure the continued success of the GM plant including retooling the plant for new production lines. I will continue to work with Governor Doyle, Senator Kohl, Congressman Ryan, state and local officials, related businesses, and the leadership of GM to do all I can to support an ongoing and vital GM presence in Janesville. The people of Janesville have worked too hard for too long to deserve anything less.”
And Sen. Barack Obama, D-IL:
"My heart goes out to the workers and families affected by the closing of these GM plants, including the Janesville plant that I visited a few months ago. Today's news is a painful reminder not only of the challenges America faces in our global economy, but of George Bush’s failed economic policies. For eight long years, we’ve had an energy policy that funds both sides in the war on terror without promoting fuel efficiency or helping make our auto companies more competitive. That’s part of the reason thousands of more Americans in Wisconsin and Ohio will no longer be able to count on a paycheck at a time when they’re already being pinched by rising costs. Unlike John McCain, I’m not in this race to extend the failed Bush economic policies; I’m in this race to end them. I’ve proposed investing $150 billion over ten years in green energy and creating up to five million new green jobs. We’ll finally provide domestic automakers with the funding they need to retool their factories and make fuel-efficient and alternative fuel cars. And we’ll invest in efforts to make sure that the cars of the future are made where they always have been -- in the United States. Because the fight for American manufacturing is the fight for America’s future – and I believe that’s a fight this country will win."
Gov. Jim Doyle:
“After all the years of work and everything the people of Janesville have given, it is tough to stomach what GM is doing here today. Families here have dedicated their working lives to this General Motors plant. The city of Janesville, the state of Wisconsin – we have all been committed to making this plant work.

“So many people here have put their hearts into building trucks at the Janesville assembly plant, and now they are left with a cold decision that casts them aside. We all feel it in our guts.

“GM made it clear that this was a plant that they were invested in. They brought Barack Obama here just months ago. It was clear that this plant was the pride of GM. It should have been obvious long ago that the future was not where GM was headed. Bad corporate decision kept these lines turning out gas guzzlers as fuel prices went from 2 dollars to 3 dollars and now to 4 dollars per gallon.

“Now we stand here, carrying the burden of those bad corporate decisions – failed leadership that culminated in a calculation that left out the very heart of this company, the workers who built it.

“I am inspired by the workers who in the face of all this – in these difficult times – are saying they will work to make the best of this. That’s the spirit that made this company worth something, and that’s the spirit that built Janesville. I want Wisconsin workers that the state will stand with you. We will work together to fight for Janesville and our future together.”

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