Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders Uses Lordstown to Go After President Trump

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

We’ve spent a good deal of time on the blog the past several weeks talking about Lordstown, the infamous General Motors plant that shut down in March, leading to 1,400 layoffs.

Now it looks like Lordstown is becoming an issue in the 2020 presidential campaign.

Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders — who is considered one of the party’s frontrunners for the nomination, at least as much as there can be a frontrunner at this point — visited Lordstownlast week. And over the weekend, the Vermont senator dropped a new digital campaign ad about the Lordstown closure in which he takes direct aim at President Trump.

The Sanders ad, titled “Lordstown Tough,” features Chuckie Denison, a third-generation GM worker who worked at Lordstown and other GM facilities. Denison is backing Sanders in the race — a given, since he’s in an ad for the guy — but Denison spends a good chunk of the ad talking about Trump.

“Trump lied to Ohio. … He came to this area and told people, ‘Do not sell your homes, I’m bringing the jobs back.’ And weeks after that, is when they announced the plant closing,” Denison says.*

Denison continues: “He came here and lied to these people. I didn’t buy it, but many people did because they were hanging on to hope. They were hoping that he would do something, but he did the opposite.”

The ad also features clips of Sanders, who calls out Trump for granting GM federal contracts despite the fact that the company is shipping production overseas.

“Today, I say to Donald Trump, ‘You know, you are a really tough guy… well, let’s see how tough you are. Tell General Motors today, no more federal contracts until they deal with Lordstown. Let’s see how tough you are,’” Sanders says.

This is probably a good time to remind everyone that the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) is a nonpartisan organization, and we don’t endorse or take sides in any campaign, whether it’s the presidential contest or a local city council race.

But we did find it noteworthy that Sanders is using Lordstown to go after Trump. And frankly, it makes sense.

Trump rode into office in 2016 pledging to bring back factory jobs, and he’s especially fond of using the auto industry as part of his rhetoric. After all, people sometimes have a hard time understanding the way big industry works, but lots of people own an automobile. It’s accessible.

Things had been going good for Trump on the factory job front, too. There were 284,000 new factory jobs created in 2018, something that the White House has been more than happy to take credit for.

But GM’s decision to close Lordstown has been a blow. The manufacturing sector lost 6,000 jobs in March as a direct result of the Lordstown shutdown.

Even more than that, it’s the symbolic nature of the closure that stings.

Despite the fact that Trump came to nearby Youngstown and told people that “we’re going to fill up those factories or rip them down and build brand new ones,” GM still opted to close the plant.

Despite the fact that Trump tweeted out his disappointment, GM still opted to close the plant.

And Sanders stepped in to remind everyone of that fact.

There’s still a long way to go until Democrats pick their eventual nominee, and an even longer way to go until the presidential contest is decided. It is foolhardy at this point to make predictions about what might happen.

But the Sanders ad could be a sign of how the race will play out. To win back the White House, Trump will likely need to win manufacturing states that helped him carry the day in 2016, including Ohio. And the eventual Democratic nominee will also likely need to pick up some of those states, too.

These issues aren’t going away. People in Ohio (and Michigan, and Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, and other places) remain concerned about the availability of good paying jobs, and factory closures like what happened in Lordstown hit home for a lot of people. As Denison says in the Sanders ad: “It’s not only devasting to the employees who work for that plant, but the families, it effects the whole entire area. Tax revenue, infrastructure, down to the schools. Even the little children in school, their best friends disappear because they’re uprooted and have to move.”

And that's the sort of thing voters think about when they head into the election booth.

*Fact check: Trump’s speech referenced in the ad took place in July 2017, and GM announced they were idling Lordstown in June 2018.


Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Uber Drivers Deserve Legal Rights and Protections

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

In an advisory memo released May 14, the U.S. labor board general counsel’s office stated that Uber drivers are not employees for the purposes of federal labor laws.

Their stance holds that workers for companies like Uber are not included in federal protections for workplace organizing activities, which means the labor board is effectively denying Uber drivers the benefits of forming or joining unions.

Simply stating that Uber drivers are just gig workers does not suddenly undo the unjust working conditions that all workers potentially face, such as wage theft, dangerous working conditions and  job insecurity. These challenges are ever-present, only now Uber drivers are facing them without the protection or resources they deserve. 

The labor board’s May statement even seems to contradict an Obama-era National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that couriers for Postmates, a job very similar to Uber drivers’, are legal employees.

However, the Department of Labor has now stated that such gig workers are simply independent contractors, meaning that they are not entitled to minimum wages or overtime pay.

While being unable to unionize limits these workers’ ability to fight for improved pay and working conditions, independent contractors can still make strides forward by organizing, explained executive director of New York Taxi Workers Alliance Bhairavi Desai.

“We can’t depend solely on the law or the courts to stop worker exploitation. We can only rely on the steadfast militancy of workers who are rising up everywhere,” Desai said in a statement. 

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Make Father's Day Union Made!

Make Father's Day Union Made!