Beyond the Big Three

Saving the auto industry was critical to saving Ohio jobs.

The auto rescue was not solely about stabilizing the “Big 3” auto companies – Chrysler, GM, and Ford ­­– it was intended to provide a vital life-line to workers in Defiance who manufacture engine blocks and Tiffin workers who build transmissions.

Ohio is second only to Michigan when it comes to supplying auto companies with the tools needed to build cars and trucks. Cars like General Motors’ Chevy Cruze and Chrysler’s Jeep Wrangler aren’t just assembled in Ohio; they’re also made with parts manufactured in Ohio.

That’s why I refused to give up on the auto suppliers in Akron, car dealers in Canton, and machinists in Medina when faced with the choice to either save America’s auto industry or allow it to sputter to a stop.

While some Washington politicians maligned hardworking auto workers as “overpaid fat cats” just months after passing a bailout for Wall Street executives without so much as flinching, forward-looking leaders were working to prevent an economic depression in strong manufacturing states like Ohio.

We were determined not to let this industry run into a ditch, because it would have caused an economic crash across the manufacturing sector.

The auto rescue was an unpopular choice, but it was the right decision.

With some 792,000 jobs in Ohio associated with the auto industry – including parts suppliers, automakers, and indirect and spin-off jobs – it was imperative to intervene. Saving Chrysler and the other auto companies meant saving workers in Parma, Holland, and Sidney.

Had GM and Chrysler collapsed, the next fall would have been the supply chain that also supports other industries besides auto. Since Ohio is one of the country’s largest manufacturing states, this collapse would have been devastating for middle class families in our state and across the United States. The threat of depression was real.

But thanks to the auto rescue, the Big 3 are back on track – and ordering parts made by manufacturers across Ohio.

In November 2008, 1,000 workers at GM’s Lordstown plant were laid off. Today, nearly 5,000 people – and another shift of workers – build the Chevy Cruze in Lordtown, one of the best selling cars in the nation. But more than that – the Cruze is an Ohio-made car supporting Ohio’s economy.

The Cruze’s tires are manufactured in Akron, its wheels in Cleveland, its seats in Warren, engine blocks in Defiance, metal from Parma, the transmissions in Toledo, the speakers in Springboro.

Out in Toledo, where President Obama and I recently visited, Chrysler is also hiring more workers and stamping the “Made in Ohio” label on its Jeep Wrangler.

The auto rescue also ensures that American-made cars are made with more American-made parts.

Prior to the auto rescue, only 55 percent of the parts in Chrysler’s Jeep Wrangler were made in America.

Today, 70 percent of the Jeep Wrangler is American-made.

The glass is made in Crestline, Ohio, the steering column in Perrysburg, the seats in Northwood, the hard top in Carey, and cargo components in Holmesville.

So in many ways, investing in the auto industry was an investment in Ohio’s supply chain.

When things looked bleak – and when no one wanted to stand with workers or auto companies – we didn’t give up on American auto companies or American manufacturing.

And that’s because we know– throughout our history – that a strong manufacturing sector is essential to our nation’s economic strength and prosperity.

The American auto industry is back, and Ohio facilities are on the frontlines of this resurgence. We knew it could be done.

For more information on Sen. Brown’s work for Ohio, please click here.

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Sen. Sherrod Brown
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