President Donald Trump again criticized the United Auto Workers union regarding the idling of the General Motors plant in Lordstown, but it was a most curious one.
During a Wednesday speech in Lima, the Republican president said as per the White House’s official transcript of the speech:
“I had union leaders in the White House a few months ago – the biggest guys. Nice guys, but they’re Democrats no matter what. OK? And you see where that’s taken you. That would’ve been catastrophic. But I had them in and we explained how good it was for the car industry, for this, for that. They said, ‘Oh, thank you, sir. Thank you. Thank you. Oh, this is unbelievable. Thank you, sir.’
“But then I see one of the guys the next day on a television show. The – I think it was called ‘Deface the Nation.’ And – ladies and gentlemen, ‘Deface the Nation.’ And he’s saying how he’s a Democrat and he wants Democrat policies – which were, by the way, putting everybody in the poorhouse.
“But I just left the guy. He’s hugging me, kissing me, telling him what an unbelievable deal. Nobody else could do it. And the next day, he’s on there talking about stuff. And I really said, ‘I sort of don’t want to meet these guys. I want to deal with the people in the union, not the heads of the union.’ Because the heads of the union are not honest people. They’re not honest, and they ought to lower your dues, by the way. They ought to stop with the dues. They – you’re paying too much dues.
“As an example, they could’ve kept General Motors. They could’ve kept it in that gorgeous plant at Lordstown. They could’ve kept it. Lower your dues. Lower your dues.”
So the president is essentially blaming the idling of the Lordstown GM plant on the UAW requiring its members to pay too much in dues.
The idling of the plant and the union dues have nothing to do with each other.
If Trump is frustrated with union leaders, that’s one thing.
But to blame union dues on closing the Lordstown plant is another.
The UAW announced last week a raise in dues to get its strike and defense fund to $850 million. It’s currently at $721 million. The fund was initially raised in 2011 and will go back to pre-2011 levels once it reaches $850 million. But that’s neither here nor there when it comes to the Lordstown idling.
What made Trump’s comments even more peculiar is earlier in his speech he praised the UAW.
“And what’s going on with General Motors? Get that plant open or sell it to somebody and they’ll open it. Everybody wants it. Sell it to somebody or open it yourselves. Get it going now and the UAW will help you. The UAW – you’re going to help. The UAW just promised they’re going to help. Get it open now. Don’t wait. They said they have discussions coming up in September, October. I said, why not tomorrow? Why not on Monday? What do you have to wait months for? Get the discussions going. Get it open.”
Trump has been talking and tweeting about Lordstown since Sunday after seeing Dave Green, UAW Local 1112 president, on Fox News talking about the plant that day.
Green was asked if the closure would impact Trump’s 2020 re-election effort. He responded that some might blame the president and others wouldn’t.
Apparently either that or something else Green said angered Trump because he later tweeted: “Democrat UAW Local 1112 President David Green ought to get his act together and produce.”
Republicans and Democrats alike who have worked with Green say he’s doing all he can to save the Lordstown plant.
Green took the high road when he said Monday: “I’m not mad at the president. He didn’t idle the plant and neither did the UAW. Right now we’re just focused on getting GM to send us another product.”
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Cleveland Democrat, and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, have criticized Trump for his comments and tweets about Lordstown and Green.
Ryan said: “Losing GM Lordstown is more than just losing a plant. It means workers losing their livelihoods. It means families being forced to leave everything behind and move away from our community. This closure has a ripple effect that touches everything and everyone. Northeast Ohio is set to lose more than $3 billion in economic activity, and what is the president doing to help? He attacked union leaders like Dave Green, who are fighting hard to save this plant and standing up for its employees. His disrespect toward Dave is disgraceful. That’s not leadership, and it’s beneath the office of the president of the United States.”
Brown has said Trump wasn’t aware of the plant removing the second shift last year until he told the president and has said Trump largely ignored the facility until the past few days.
It’s good that Trump is using his position as president to apply pressure to GM to put a new product at the Lordstown plant or sell the facility. But his approach – as is sometimes the case – is rather unorthodox.