Just days before he is scheduled to be in Ohio for a factory tour in Lima and a private high-priced fundraiser in Canton, President Donald J. Trump unleashed an attack on the autoworkers’ union in the Mahoning Valley.
Trump’s verbal lashing is unjustified, unfair and unwarranted.
Indeed, it is noteworthy that General Motors shuttered its 53-year-old Lordstown assembly plant March 6, and this past weekend is the first time the president has commented on the move.
On Sunday, Trump issued two tweets regarding GM Lordstown.
The first, posted at 10:38 a.m., said, “Democrat UAW Local 1112 President David Green ought to get his act together and produce. G.M. let our Country down, but other much better car companies are coming into the U.S. in droves. I want action on Lordstown fast. Stop complaining and get the job done! 3.8% Unemployment!”
The second tweet came at 6:27 p.m.:
“Just spoke to Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors about the Lordstown Ohio plant. I am not happy that it is closed when everything else in our Country is BOOMING. I asked her to sell it or do something quickly. She blamed the UAW Union – I don’t care, I just want it open!”
Trump’s demands are too little, too late. He knew for months that GM was planning to pull up stakes in the Mahoning Valley, and all he did was issue hollow threats.
When GM CEO Barra announced last November that the company was closing four car and parts plants in the U.S. and one in Canada, Trump made it clear he would not sit idly by while the giant automaker mothballed domestic facilities while expanding those abroad.
‘DRIVE IT HOME OHIO’
Based on the belief that the White House would intervene, UAW Local 1112 President Green and his members joined forces with the Youngstown-Warren
Regional Chamber to launch the “Drive It Home Ohio” campaign.
The goal was to persuade GM not to close the huge complex after it had discontinued production of the once top-selling Chevrolet Cruze, but to replace the subcompact with another model.
We have consistently criticized GM for its huge investment in a plant in Mexico so it could take advantage of the low wages to build the re-engineered, redesigned Chevrolet Blazer SUV. We insisted that the company bring the Blazer to the Lordstown assembly plant, which had one of the most experienced, qualified automobile workforces in the country.
GM ignored us – just as it did President Trump.
That’s why his criticism of what has occurred locally and his demand that the United Auto Workers “Stop complaining and get the job done!” is ludicrous.
UAW’s Green was diplomatic in his response to Trump, which is understandable given his relationship with the business-oriented chamber of commerce.
“Folks here in the Mahoning Valley are True Blue, hard-working, loyal, dedicated and ready to help General Motors and this country build cars and trucks of the future,” he said in a prepared statement.
Green might have added that more than 40 percent of his membership voted for Republican Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.
He also might have pointed out that Trump carried predominantly Democratic Trumbull County and came close to winning in heavily Democratic
Mahoning County because he promised to reopen the massive steel mills along the Mahoning River and to boost the American auto industry.
Trump came to the Valley and urged residents not to move and not to sell their homes because he was going to reignite the economy of this region.
But the closing of the GM plant has resulted in hundreds of workers moving away for jobs in other plants.
No, the darkening of the massive Lordstown assembly is not the result of the UAW dropping the ball. The fault lies with President Trump and his belief that his threats of economic retaliation against American corporations are taken seriously.
The decision by GM to not only close four American plants but to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a Mexico facility to build the Blazer is the ultimate in-your-face move against the president of the United States.
On Wednesday, when Trump visits Lima and then attends the exclusive fundraiser in Canton, we wonder if he’ll see the irony of being just a short drive away from the Lordstown plant that GM closed under his watch.
As Congressman Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, put it in response to Trump’s attack on the UAW: “The president’s tweet today is offensive and does nothing to help bring back the manufacturing jobs he promised to my district. It’s counterproductive and insulting. We all deserve better.”