Trump to GM: Build, or Get Off the Plant
Speaking against a very high-calibre backdrop at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, Ohio, President Donald Trump turned up the heat on General Motors to do something for the Lordstown-area economy. The automaker’s now-shuttered assembly plant, which entered “unallocated” status earlier this month, had been an economic driver in northeast Ohio since its opening in 1966.
Trump’s message to GM: Do something with the plant, or sell it to someone who will. While the automaker maintains that the status of its idled plants hinges on United Auto Workers labor negotiations, it does say it’s open to Lordstown Assembly offers. It’s already had some.
As he touted the country’s economy, Trump pivoted to a regional issue.
“What’s going on with General Motors?” Trump asked the crowd. “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 president then suggested that Lordstown’s mothball status could have been prevented by the UAW lowering its membership dues. He called on the union to lower its dues, then implored both GM and the UAW to start contract negotiations early. (The current contract expires in September, with bargaining talks scheduled to begin this summer.)
UAW Local 1112 President David Green, who represented Lordstown workers, said in an earlier Fox News interview that it was Trump’s own tax cuts that helped speed the plant’s closure. Naturally, Trump took to Twitter to voice his disapproval, telling Green to “get his act together and produce.”
As Automotive News reports, GM has picked up the phone about a possible Lordstown sale more than once.
Company spokesman James Cain said, in response to Trump’s tank plant speech, “We have received inquiries from interested parties related to the Lordstown complex and the Chevrolet Cruze. We will consider any that are viable business opportunities.”
This echoes statements made by GM spokesman Dan Flores to Detroit and Lordstown newspapers following reports, earlier this week, that a Cleveland businessman offered GM a deal to purchase over a hundred thousand Cruzes to supply his proposed ride-hailing company. Cain’s comment suggests someone else had an interest in the plant, too.
Still, whether or not GM keeps Lordstown (as well as Detroit-Hamtramck) or decides to sell depends on UAW bargaining which, as of this writing, is still on track to start in mid-summer.
[Image: General Motors]
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