Commentary: Trump left workers behind

©Tribune News Service

President Donald Trump addresses supporters during his Make America Great Again Victory Rally at AV Flight at the Capital Region International Airport in Lansing, Michigan on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. - Todd McInturf/The Detroit News/TNS

President Donald Trump’s campaign seems to believe that if it keeps churning out falsehoods, working people in states like Ohio will once again propel him to the White House.

Vice President Mike Pence was in Columbus recently, where he claimed the Trump administration had “revived the American economy” and created “97,000 jobs right here in the Buckeye State.”

Contrary to Pence’s lies, Ohio lost jobs in 2019 — the state’s worst year since the Great Recession.

These lies feel like a punch in the gut to me and the 5,000 workers I used to represent at the General Motors plant in Lordstown, Ohio. Our 6.2-million-square-foot facility was shuttered last year, shattering what remained of the American dream for thousands of working families across the Mahoning Valley.

Nationwide, Trump has the worst jobs record of any president in modern history. Between 2016 and 2018, 1,800 factories closed and, since the pandemic began, our economy has lost nearly half of the 11.6 million jobs gained during the Obama-Biden years.

And all Trump can do is lie about it.

Back in 2016, communities like ours had been bleeding good, union manufacturing jobs for years. We were terrified that GM would close the Lordstown plant and leave the region with a giant economic hole to fill.

So when Trump stood before a cheering crowd in northeast Ohio and vowed to “keep your auto jobs in Ohio,” working class voters believed him. Lordstown’s Trumbull County was one of nine counties in Ohio that flipped to Trump in 2016, after voting for Obama in 2008 and 2012.

“Don’t sell your homes,” Trump told Lordstown workers the following year. “The jobs are coming back.”

They didn’t. And in 2018, GM gave the announcement we’d all feared — Lordstown, and four other GM plants, would be closed.

When GM first announced it was cutting shifts at our plant, I reached out to President Trump and asked him for help. I sent him two letters. I attended his rallies and spoke to his campaign staff. I got no response until, one day, Trump called me out on Twitter and said that I hadn’t done enough to save Lordstown.

I hadn’t done enough?

Trump could have signed an executive order forbidding GM or any other corporation that does business with the federal government from offshoring good, American jobs. Instead, the Trump administration rewarded GM with tax breaks and huge government contracts.

Now, in a desperate bid to hold those working class voters they abandoned, Trump says our area is “booming now.”

But, in fact, the Mahoning Valley is not booming. After Lordstown closed, the dominos fell hard. Families are selling their homes and moving, store after store sits vacant, and public schools and other taxpayer-funded services have been forced to tighten their belts after losing $34.5 million in local and state taxes.

Trump and Pence have boasted about Lordstown Motors, a venture partially funded by GM, which recently bought the plant and announced plans to hire 600 nonunion workers next year.

But that won’t begin to fill the hole left by GM, and Ohio knows it. The state recently ordered GM to pay back $28 million in tax credits after the billion-dollar corporation failed to meet the terms of a 30-year agreement to keep the plant open.

Working people aren’t stupid. We see through Trump’s lies and his deceit. And we deserve better.

———

ABOUT THE WRITER

Dave Green worked at the General Motors plant in Lordstown, Ohio, for 30 years and served as the president of UAW Local 1112. He now works at GM’s Bedford Casting Operations in Bedford, Indiana. This column was produced for the Progressive Media Project, which is run by The Progressive magazine, and distributed by Tribune News Service.

———