CEO Mary Barra stands firm on GM austerity plans in DC meetings

General Motors Co. Chairman Mary Barra stood firm on plans to idle five plants, lay off 6,000 salaried employees and imperil the jobs of 3,300 hourly workers as she met Wednesday with Ohio’s U.S. senators and several of Michigan’s newly elected U.S. members.

Speaking with reporters after a closed-door meeting with Barra at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Ohio Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman said the GM chief committed to trying to expedite negotiations with the United Auto Workers union on the future of the company’s recented “unallocated” plants, including the Lordstown Assembly plant in northeast Ohio. But they said Barra did not reverse course on the decisions as they would have preferred.

“Both of us want to be sure that both the company and the UAW expedite that as much as possible and get to a decision to provide some potential certainty,” said Portman, a Republican. “She agreed that’s a potential opportunity. Also, she has said to us that she is going to keep an open mind, but she does not want to raise expectations.”