President Trump Says Lordstown is Saved! But… Is It?

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch Digital Media Director, Alliance for American Manufacturing

President Trump took a break from his normal Twitter routine on Wednesday afternoon to break a piece of honest-to-goodness news:

Trump is referring to the General Motors Lordstown plant in Ohio, which is one of five North American plants that General Motors announced in November would be shut down, eliminating thousands of jobs.

The Lordstown plant officially closed in March, leading to 1,400 layoffs. Although some of the Lordstown workers have landed at other GM plants, others are still looking for work.

The Lordstown closure was devastating for Ohio’s Mahoning Valley, which had depended on the factory as a pillar of its economy since it opened in 1966. For his part, Trump took the news of the Lordstown closure pretty personally. After all, he visited nearby Youngstown during the 2016 campaign and famously declared, “Those jobs have left Ohio — they’re all coming back. Don’t move, don’t sell your house.”

When Trump tweeted out Wednesday afternoon that GM had sold the Lordstown factory — and to Workhorse, a company that wants to use it to make electric trucks! — it seemed like great news.

But once you start looking at the details, it’s not so clear any of this is going to pan out.

First, there’s the United Autoworkers (UAW) union. Trump notes in his tweet that the GM sale is “subject to a UAW agreement etc.,” and well… the union isn’t exactly enthused about the whole thing. Here’s a statement from UAW Vice President Terry Dittes:

In response to General Motors’ announcement today, the UAW’s position is unequivocal: General Motors should assign a product to the Lordstown facility and continue operating it.

A federal lawsuit filed by the UAW over the closing of the Lordstown, Baltimore and Warren facilities is still pending, and the UAW will continue its effort to protect the contractual rights of its members at these locations.

You can’t blame the UAW for not exactly jumping at the chance to help GM out here. As Matt McMullan wrote in April, the UAW and its members gave up a whole lot to try to keep Lordstown up-and-running — and the plant was making a profit! — but GM decided to shut it down anyway.

But even if the union didn’t have to approve the deal, there still are a number of other red flags.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine didn’t even know it was happening when Trump posted his tweet, and had to talk to GM CEO Mary Barra to get details. When he got off the phone, he was pretty subdued, saying, “I’m just by nature a cautious person.”

Hmmm.

Then later on, DeWine noted that not only does the UAW have to approve the deal, but the U.S. Postal Service must pick Workhorse as a supplier for a $6 billion contract to provide the electric vehicles for its fleet.

Now, Workhorse is a finalist for the contract; the decision is expected to happen this year. But even if Workhorse lands the dealit’s not certain the vehicles will be built in Lordstown.

Oh, and then there are concerns about Workhorse itself. The Cincinnati-based company “has no experience in mass vehicle production, its shares recently traded for less than $1, and quarterly revenues were less than the price of one high-end sports car,” the New York Times reported.

Like we said, it’s not so clear any of this is going to pan out.

Although Trump was pretty excited, Ohio politicians' reactions were more mixed. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) told the NYT that it’s “still too early to tell whether the sale is good news for workers.” Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) was cautious but optimistic, saying that “all in all it’s a net positive, because there’s something going in the facility.” Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) tweetedthat he’s “optimistic about the news” and “hopeful that this news will benefit workers.”

But just like another deal that’s gotten a lot of attention lately, there are a lot of things to be worked out before workers can get back to work at the historic plant — and as AAM President Scott Paul told the NYT, Trump “is no stranger to grandiosity when it comes to job claims.”

“Foxconn is in limbo and virtually no one believes it will live up to the billing,” he said.

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Reposted from the AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

An Invitation to Sunny Miami. What Could Be Bad?

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

If a billionaire “invites” you somewhere, you’d better go. Or be prepared to suffer the consequences. This past May, hedge fund kingpin Carl Icahn announced in a letter to his New York-based staff of about 50 that he would be moving his business operations to Florida. But the 83-year-old Icahn assured his staffers they had no reason to worry: “My employees have always been very important to the company, so I’d like to invite you all to join me in Miami.” Those who go south, his letter added, would get a $50,000 relocation benefit “once you have established your permanent residence in Florida.” Those who stay put, the letter continued, can file for state unemployment benefits, a $450 weekly maximum that “you can receive for a total of 26 weeks.” What about severance from Icahn Enterprises? The New York Post reported last week that the two dozen employees who have chosen not to uproot their families and follow Icahn to Florida “will be let go without any severance” when the billionaire shutters his New York offices this coming March. Bloomberg currently puts Carl Icahn’s net worth at $20.5 billion.

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