Secretary Hilda Solis announced plans to provide Michigan with another $49 million to help retrain laid off workers.
By Karen Dybis, Agence France-Presse June 2, 2009
Armed with aid packages and promises of a better future, President Barack Obama's cabinet members fanned out across the U.S. "rust belt" on June 2 to calm concerns in the wake of a bankruptcy filing by General Motors.
The political risks for Obama were high as the government took a 60%stake in the troubled automaker in exchange for providing $50 billion dollars to help finance a restructuring which includes plans to close 14 plants and cut 21,000 U.S. jobs.
The layoffs will hit states like Michigan and Ohio which are already devastated by a decades-long decline in the manufacturing base. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced plans to provide Michigan with another $49 million to help retrain laid off workers while touring a GM engine plant in Romulus, Michigan. Some 700,000 jobs have been lost in the state of Michigan alone since the beginning of the decade.
"I know that it's staggering right now, but the Obama administration is fighting like the dickens to turn it around," Solis told a small group of workers.
The fuel-efficient and hybrid engines built at Romulus will help General Motors reshape its business for the 21st century, Solis said, and the administration will help fuel the growth of "green" jobs.
"Traditions change, history changes and it changes us," Solis said. "It's time to step up to the plate and be ready for that change." More here.