Detroit Free Press
Published 12:06 PM EDT Sep 17, 2019
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Monday he hopes the UAW’s national strike against General Motors is “a quick one” but remained largely noncommittal as to the differences separating the company and its union workers.
“My relationship has been very powerful with the autoworkers, not necessarily the top (UAW) person or two but the people that work doing automobiles,” Trump said in his first extended remarks regarding the strike that began at midnight Monday.
He said he was “sad” about the strike.
Trump spoke at length about mistakes he said GM made opening facilities in China and Mexico, but those plants were built “before my watch,” and he doesn’t expect the company will do that again while he is in office.
The president spoke at the White House where he met with the crown prince of Bahrain.
Sunday, Trump tweeted that it seemed a strike was imminent and that he hoped a deal could be reached.
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Trump’s noncommittal stance on the UAW strike of GM came in stark contrast to the president’s past remarks in which he chided GM for making cars outside the USA and sharply criticized UAW officials for not supporting him.
During his 2016 campaign, Trump made overt pleas to workers – including autoworkers – criticizing auto companies and saying he would bring jobs back to the USA. Early this month, Trump had a brief meeting with GM CEO Mary Barra, though neither she nor the White House disclosed what was discussed.
Monday, the White House did not immediately respond to questions from the Detroit Free Press as to whether anyone from GM or the union is in contact with Trump about the strike or whether the president has had any other meetings with Barra or other GM officials, or is in any way providing advice on the contract negotiations.
In his remarks Monday at the White House, Trump noted the support he received from rank-and-file autoworkers and said even against the backdrop of the strike, “very positive things are happening” at plants being expanded or renovated.
“Nobody’s been better to the autoworkers than me,” he said. “I’d like to see it work out, but I don’t want General Motors building plants in China and Mexico. … I don’t want these big massive auto plants built in other countries, and I don’t think they’ll be doing that anymore.
“I’m sad to see the strike,” he said. “Hopefully, it’s going to be a quick one.”
Later Monday, Trump said, “Federal mediation is always possible, if that’s what they want.”
Follow Todd Spangler on Twitter @tsspangler.