Just last summer, Donald Trump promised Ohio workers that they would have jobs, jobs, jobs, and they shouldn't sell their homes or otherwise consider leaving for better-paying jobs, because he, and he alone, would make sure they had jobs right where they were.
Today, General Motors announced the layoff of up to 14,700 workers and the closure of five manufacturing facilities.
In a statement, the company said it will close the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant in Detroit and Warren Transmission Operations in Warren. Other plants closing include the Oshawa Assembly Plant in Oshawa, Ontario, the Lordstown Assembly in Warren, Ohio and the Baltimore Operations in White Marsh, Maryland. Four of five plant closures in the United States, and three of them in key Trump states.
If you think this feels like a union-busting move, you're not alone. The UAW is quite angry about this, particularly since General Motors came out and said specifically that they're positioning themselves for negotiations next year.
According to a spokesperson for GM, the plants will be unallocated which means they will no longer produce vehicles in those plants in 2019. According to the company, the future of the plants will be part of contract talks with the UAW next year.
“The actions we are taking today continue our transformation to be highly agile, resilient and profitable, while giving us the flexibility to invest in the future,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “We recognize the need to stay in front of changing market conditions and customer preferences to position our company for long-term success.”
The excuse is that these plants make passenger vehicles, which are less in demand than SUVs and trucks, manufactured elsewhere.
As I see it, Trump is on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, it is Republican orthodoxy to destroy unions whenever possible. Closing plants ahead of contract negotiations next year is clearly intended to do just that. On the other hand, Trump promised those employees they would have jobs, that they shouldn't relocate, shouldn't do anything because they would have jobs. And now they won't, further eroding the economies of these already-stretched areas.
Pile some more tariffs on, and you can see where this is going...downhill. Call me a pessimist, but I smell another recession coming.
Meanwhile, let's see how Trump manages to lie his way out of this: