Last year, President Donald Trump encouraged employees living near General Motors’ Lordstown plant and other long-shuttered plants to hang in there despite the fact there was no reason to believe the industries in the region were planning to add jobs.
“They’re all coming back. They’re all coming back,” he told a crowd at rally in July 2017. The raucous crowd roared its approval and he added, “Don’t move. Don’t sell your house.”
Today he found out he was wrong — again.
General Motors announced its intention to shut down the Lordstown, Ohio plant due to slow sales of the facility’s only product, the Chevy Cruze. The plant had already dropped two of its three shifts, costing 3,000 jobs, since the president’s 2017 inauguration. The complete closure of Lordstown is part of a larger realignment of the company’s production resources that will see five assembly plants and two powertrain sites close, with 15,000 workers being displaced.
(Mary Barra continues radical reshaping of General Motors. Click Here for the story.)
Trump, who has often made GM and other automaker’s the target of criticisms via social media an interviews, misjudged the automotive market in the U.S., especially the impact that his tariffs would have on automakers and suppliers. U.S. auto exports to China, the world’s largest automotive market, have slumped sharply since the two countries entered into a trade war.
That said, as is his wont, Trump told the media today that he “wasn’t happy” about the news from GM and that something was going to change.
“I believe they’ll be opening up something else. I was very tough,” he said. “I spoke with (GM CEO Mary Barra) when I heard they were closing and I said, you know this country’s done a lot for General Motors. You better get back in there soon.”
Trump said that he and other politicians would exert pressure on GM to keep the Lordstown plant open – he didn’t specifically address the other plants that are scheduled to close – and cryptically suggested that the automaker would be announcing a change to the plan, offering no actual proof.
“They say the Chevy Cruze is not selling well,” he said. “I say then get a car that is selling well and put it back in. So I think you’re going to see something else happen there, but I’m not happy about it.”
(Click Here for more about GM looking at white collar layoffs due to low buyout response.)
In addition to Trump, Sherrod Brown, the newly elected Democratic Senator from Ohio, demanded that GM protect the Lordstown plant. His call was followed by several other political leaders, including Michigan Senator Gary Peters. However, at least one politician pointed the finger back at Trump
“This news should be a wake up call to the Trump Administration. It’s time to stop the recklessly executed trade policies and start prioritizing the American workforce,” tweeted Haley Stevens, who is a newly elected Congresswoman from Michigan. Stevens led the Obama administration’s automotive task force that helped GM out of bankruptcy.
Trump was an opponent of the multi-billion-dollar bailouts that saved both GM and Chrysler nearly a decade ago, preserving what Stevens and others, at the time, said could be as many as 1 million American jobs.
The latest Trump twitter attack on GM follows a blizzard of tweets since he began his White House campaign, though Ford Motor Co. became his most frequent target. Trump hotly opposed Ford’s plans to move small car production from Michigan and to a new plant in Mexico and tried to take credit when the automaker canceled plans for a second plant south of the border. But Joe Hinrichs, a Ford executive vice president at the time, told TheDetroitBureau.com that the decision had no connection to Trump.
(To see more about GM’s plans, Click Here.)
In fact, Ford then planned to move production of its compact Focus to China. That strategy also was dropped as a result of the president’s Chinese tariffs. Ford will no longer build the Focus at all.