The group interested in purchasing General Motors’ now-closed assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio, is close to completing the deal, according to Vice President Mike Pence.
But a spokesman for the United Auto Workers said the union’s current labor agreement with GM gives it the absolute right to veto any deal for the plant until their contract runs out on Sept. 14.
During a visit to Lancaster, Ohio, Pence told a group of reporters that Cincinnati-based Workhorse, which is trying to buy the idled General Motors plant in Lordstown, has secured financing.
“Workhorse, I learned, just this week, secured the financing to move forward to keep jobs in that community, and we’re going to continue to look for ways to support that,” he said, noting President Donald Trump pressed GM to keep the plant open after the automaker said in November it would leave the plant “unallocated” as part of a larger corporate restructuring.
The Lordstown plant outside Youngstown, Ohio, ceased operation in March, displacing some 1,700 workers, who have been offered jobs at other GM factories around the country.
“Well, as you know, after GM made that announcement, President Trump made it clear that we wanted to see GM do better. We’re very pleased that they stepped forward,” Pence told reporters during his stop in Ohio.
“The 2015 GM agreement contains the provision that a plant cannot be sold without the consent of the UAW. That is the same provision that addresses idling, which is subject to the court case in Ohio,” a UAW spokesman said in an e-mail to thedetroitbureau.com.
Union negotiators, who are now locked in bargaining with GM, have not approved any such deal.
GM has defended its plan to sell the Lordstown plant to Workforce, which is basically a startup company with limited resources, but had no immediate comment on Pence statement. E-mails to GM’s public relations staff were not answered. The company has maintained it has jobs for the workers at other facilities.
Meanwhile, Tom Perez, the former U.S. Secretary of Labor who is currently chairman of the Democratic National Committee, suggested during an appearance at a soon-to-close GM plant just outside Detroit the supposed GM-Workforce deal in Lordstown is a sham.
“It’s not worth the paper it’s written on,” Perez told reporters during a press conference across the street from GM’s Warren Transmission plant, which is scheduled to close this week.
Perez also ripped Trump’s overall economic record, noting that in Wisconsin has become the center of farm foreclosures in the United States. As a candidate in 2016, Trump had told workers in Youngstown “not to sell their houses” because the manufacturing jobs would be coming back.
“Those are his words not mine,” said Perez, who said Trump has failed to keep the promises he made to working American in 2016 while rewarding “the Mar-a-Lago crowd” with major tax cuts.
The themes used by both sides – Pence’s references to the Trump administration’s record of job security and Perez’s critique of the economic insecurity affecting some Americans – are expected to be used extensively during the 2020 campaign for votes in pivotal industrial states such Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.