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A Small Glimmer of Hope

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Well, something is moving into the shuttered Lordstown GM plant. It’s a little bit.

General Motors has sold its factory in Lordstown, Ohio, to a company that says it will make electric pickup trucks with union labor at wages comparable to those of the Detroit automakers.

The price was not disclosed.

The announcement on Thursday came less than two weeks after members of the United Automobile Workers approved a new contract with G.M., ending a strike in which the future of the factory, idled this year, was a central issue.

The buyer is Lordstown Motors, a start-up that says it plans to hire some 400 workers next year and start production of an electric pickup designed for commercial fleets.

Steve Burns, the founder of Lordstown Motors, said the company would give preference in hiring to the plant’s former G.M. workers.

“We think it is appropriate that it is union,” Mr. Burns said in an interview. “Our goal is to hire those folks first who have experience and are still in Lordstown.”

Lordstown Motors expects to begin hiring workers next fall and start production by the end of 2020, Mr. Burns said. Workers will probably earn the top U.A.W. wage of about $31 an hour, he added.

“We will be paying the same as the Big Three are paying,” Mr. Burns said.

Well, OK. A small part of this factory will be used to fill a niche that might actually be sustainable. Given that the Big Three don’t make a lot of commercial vehicles, this could work. Certainly the idea of competing with the car makers is not something with a long history of success. The bigger question of course is why GM is so short-sighted that it can’t invest heavily in electric vehicles itself, even the giant SUVs and trucks that it loves to profit off of. It could have gone big here and kept all 3,000 people employed. It simply chose not to do so, just as it chose not to keep that plant open making the same smaller cars it had done for nearly a half-century. I’m glad that 13% or so the laid off workers will find their way back into a good-paying union job, but that’s not much to alleviate the general problems of the Lordstown workers and the bigger Youngstown community.

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