By on March 21, 2019

Image: GM

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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17 Comments on “Trump to GM: Build, or Get Off the Plant...”


  • avatar
    -Nate

    Yay trump (?) .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    TDS: Trump Daily Spleen-vent

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Perhaps the Trump kids could buy it, hire back all the union workers and produce the Trump car, his past business ventures have gone well so I am sure he could do it. I do not see anyone who will buy this plant and make a solid effect to keep it open if they have to pay Union wages , Why buy that plant when you can make cars down south w no Union.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      By “down south” do you mean Mexico? GM can’t avoid the union anywhere in the US.

      If the union makes it too extremely favorable, building outside the US, what did they expect? And it’s not just about “union wages”.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Tesla Model Y

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @SCE: Maybe in exchange for the $7500 coming back for all US assembled EVs over a certain US parts percentage? There would have to be some sort of incentive. Otherwise, Nevada.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    What mfg company in their right mind would do this? Wouldn’t that mean inheriting UAW issues? None of the transplants wanted any part of that so they set up shop away from UAW folks.

    • 0 avatar
      gomez

      Not necessarily. NUMMI was a UAW plant, but that didn’t transfer when Tesla bought it. But 2010 was a different time, economically speaking. The UAW may be more emboldened this time.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    There’s an interesting article in today’s New York Times describing how companies used to respond defensively to Trump’s critiques, but are now learning to mostly ignore him as a better strategy. Business today is an international affair, and jawboning and making threats counts for little in the end. And tariffs only exacerbate the problem. I’ll give Trump credit for going after China for all their mischief, but even that has produced mixed results. Meanwhile, our best trade partners are working around Trump and waiting until he’s gone.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      The only way to “win” against some who’s a toxic narcissist rage clown is simple: don’t play.

    • 0 avatar
      James Charles

      Jeff,
      I read the article as well. Not only business but nations are disregarding the Trump noises.

      It will be interesting where ignoring Trump is in six to twelve months.

      His bullying, belligerence and BS has been a huge negative for the US. It will take years for countries to come back fully to the US, especially the EU.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Presidents have the power of the pulpit, and it’s foolhardy to ignore them, especially when they can create a campaign issue that can saddle a company with negative publicity for many months. That’s especially true of a presidential election that’s already started and has over a dozen declared candidates eleven months before the first primary, and nineteen months before the actual election.

        GM has a counter-argument, that the steel import tariffs raised the cost of steel coming from nearby PA and made the Lordstown plant more expensive, but that’s true of all assembly plants and all automakers. The resurgence of the US steel industry and increases in employment makes that argument impossible.

        If Mary Barra were more adept, she might have made a decent case for shutting down the plant “temporarily”, until business conditions for the auto industry become clearer, but she’s not, while Trump is more adept at presenting a complex issue in simplistic terms that fit a sound bite.

  • avatar
    Steve203

    GM still has too much production capacity for the number of vehicles it can sell.

    My suspicion in the extension of D-Ham is it will be used to play the locals at it, Fairfax and Grand River against each-other.

    I read an interesting article about Grand River when it first opened in 2001. The article said that plant was built so cheap and flimsy, (it cost half what Chrysler spent on Toledo North at the same time), that it would be economic to tear down in 15 years. That plant is now 18 years old. There have been expansions added on at Grand River since it was opened. I wonder if the expansions were built as cheap, flimsy and expendable as the rest of the plant?

    Keeping the lights on at D-Ham, keeps the core of the workforce together so GM can threaten the union to close Grand River and Fairfax and move the Malibu, Camaro and rear drive Cadillacs into D-Ham, unless the Fairfax and Grand River locals get on their knees.

    I doubt there is any hope for Lordstown, barring GM actually producing a model that Americans really want, and GM not building it in Mexico or China instead. With the current tight labor market, the Lordstown workers will be quickly absorbed by other companies, if they are willing to relocate a couple hundred miles.

  • avatar
    0Gravity

    China is a cheat but the Trump trade war has been a ham-fisted mess led by a figurehead in Trump who is deeply ignorant and has no interest in putting in the hard work and time to learn anything. GM announced back in 2018 that Trump’s tariffs have cost the company $1 billion, and that while they are not directly responsible for the layoffs, they are among the “headwinds,” as Barra put it.

    • 0 avatar
      James Charles

      0Gravity,
      Trump tends to complicate issues and let othees resolve the mess he makes, then hentries to take credit for others effort.

      I totally agree China needs to be reined in, so did the EU and most every country on the planet. Trump’s method of putting friends and Allies off side by declaring them securitynrisks to the US has made the job of dealing with China so much more difficult.

      Even the North Korean issue has been made harder as the Chinese are guiding the North Koreans. Trump is a terrible negotiator as the North Korean and Chinese trade deal is linked politically.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    So Trump is blaming the union dues paid by members for the business decisions made by GM? Time to get some bumper stickers printed up. POTTED PLANT 2020: IT COULDN’T BE ANY DUMBER.

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