General Motors will end production this week at the first of five North American plants it wants to close by early next year as part of a companywide restructuring. Production at the Lordstown, Ohio plant ends on Wednesday. (March 5)
President Donald Trump targeted General Motors and a United Auto Workers leader in weekend tweets urging the car maker to reopen its manufacturing plant in Lordstown, Ohio.
At 1:38 p.m. Sunday, Trump tweeted: “Democrat UAW Local 1112 President David Green ought to get his act together and produce. G.M. let our Country down, but other much better car companies are coming into the U.S. in droves. I want action on Lordstown fast. Stop complaining and get the job done! 3.8% Unemployment!”
The tweet at Green came a day after Trump urged GM, also on Twitter, to reopen the Ohio plant, which just made its last Chevrolet Cruze: “Because the economy is so good, General Motors must get their Lordstown, Ohio, plant open, maybe in a different form or with a new owner, FAST! Toyota is investing 13.5 $Billion in U.S., others likewise. G.M. MUST ACT QUICKLY. Time is of the essence!”
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In the Saturday tweet, Trump was referring to Toyota announcing last week that it plans to expand investment in U.S. manufacturing plants as the Japanese automaker bolsters its North American production presence amid concerns about tariffs.
The automaker deepened its commitment to American factories with plans to invest $13 billion in the period from 2017 to 2022, up from a previous plan of $10 billion.
On Thursday, the company specified plans to invest $749 million and hire 568 new workers at existing operations in Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee and West Virginia.
GM has not responded to a request for reaction to Trump’s Lordstown tweet.
But Green told the Detroit Free Press on Sunday: “We have been producing here. We’ve done everything we can. We started a grassroots campaign and we’ve done everything we can. I recognize Terry Dittes, our international vice president, will sit down with the negotiating table with General Motors this year and that’s where our fate lies, at the bargaining table.”
At 4:49 p.m., the main UAW account tweeted, “Thank you, Mr. President, for fighting alongside the UAW against @GM. We will leave no stone unturned to keep the plants open!”
The UAW has sued GM over the plant closure, contending it violates terms of the 2015 contract. GM says market conditions have changed, permitting the move.
GM has faced continued harsh criticism from Trump and other lawmakers for its plans to idle five plants in North America by the end of this year or early next year as part of a restructuring plan to save the automaker $2.5 billion this year.
GM is discontinuing many of the products built at those plants, which are mostly sedans, saying U.S. consumers prefer SUVs and pickups. But GM has faced a backlash for opting to build other new products, such as the Chevrolet Blazer SUV, in Mexico.
GM built the Chevrolet Cruze compact car at Lordstown, Ohio, until last week when the last one rolled off the line.
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The other plants GM will idle include Detroit Hamtramck in January 2020 where it builds the Cadillac CT6 sedan and Warren Transmission this year. It will also idle Oshawa Assembly in Ontario, Canada, this summer and a transmission plant in Maryland. At risk are some 6,200 hourly and salary jobs.
About 700 hourly workers at Detroit-Hamtramck and Lordstown assembly plants have transferred to other plants to keep their jobs. But many had to leave behind their families, UAW leaders have said.
GM has said it has 2,700 open jobs at various U.S. factories available to the majority of those working at plants that will close and has said it will put $20 million into its Romulus propulsion plant to increase the plant’s capacity for future 10-speed transmission production. As of January, 1,100 workers at U.S. plants have volunteered to transfer.
“All of those transfers are in effect because of the terms of the 2015 collective bargaining agreement,” Brian Rothenberg, UAW spokesman, said in previous reports. “As President (Gary) Jones has said, the UAW will leave no stone unturned in working to keep these plants open.”
Last month, GM also announced it would add $36 million to its Lansing Delta Township plant for future crossover production. That plant builds the Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave SUVs.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk says the new SUV will “ride like a sports car.”
USA Today reporter Nathan Bomey contributed to this report.
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