Trump Says He Asked GM CEO to Sell Ohio Plant or ‘Do Something’

Mark Niquette and Ben Brody

(Bloomberg) -- A day after demanding that General Motors Co. keep open a plant in Lordstown, Ohio, that it’s idling, President Donald Trump shifted blame to the Democratic leader of the local union.

“Democrat UAW Local 1112 President David Green ought to get his act together and produce,” Trump tweeted on Sunday. He added, “Stop complaining and get the job done!”

In an interview on Sunday, Green, the president of United Auto Workers Local 1112, responded, “We have produced and my act is together. Come on down and have a look.’’

Green, who’s been an outspoken critic of the president in the past, said Trump had pledged to preserve jobs in Trumbull County, where GM’s Lordstown plant is located, but the unemployment rate there was 7.7 percent in January.

“They’re like empty promises because again, we’ve seen nothing but job loss in this area,” Green said. “And he thinks that the economy is doing so well?’’

Trump’s attack on Green was a change in focus from Saturday, when the president tweeted that “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!”

The president cited Toyota Motor Corp.’s plans to add to its U.S. investments, announced Thursday, bringing the amount to almost $13 billion over five years ending in 2021.

In November, GM included Lordstown on a list of four plants in the U.S. and one in Canada that could be shuttered by the end of 2019 if the automaker and its unions don’t come up with an agreement to allocate more work to those facilities.

Toyota’s Plans

In December, GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra said in meetings with Ohio lawmakers that the future of the factory can turn on the outcome of labor talks. The plant had been used to produce the slow-selling Chevrolet Cruze compact car.

Toyota, Japan’s largest automaker, has tried to work its way into Trump’s good graces after being a target of his tweets when he was president-elect in January 2017. Days after drawing criticism for plans to build Corolla cars in Mexico, Toyota announced a $10 billion, five-year investment plan. In August of that year, it unveiled plans with Mazda Motor Corp. to jointly build a $1.6 billion factory in Alabama.

The final Cruze rolled off the Lordstown production line on March 6. Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio called it a “sad day” and urged GM to use the site for future electric-vehicle production.

A UAW spokesman said in a statement Sunday that the union’s “focus is on our members and to leave no stone unturned to keep the GM plants open.”

--With assistance from Josh Eidelson and Justin Blum.

To contact the reporters on this story: Mark Niquette in Columbus at mniquette@bloomberg.net;Ben Brody in Washington at btenerellabr@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at awayne3@bloomberg.net, Larry Liebert, Tony Czuczka

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