According to President Donald Trump, General Motors CEO Mary Barra made a “big mistake” when she laid off thousands of workers. Now, President Trump is promising retaliation against the iconic American automotive company.
In case you haven’t been following the news, General Motors announced a global restructuring plan that would see production halted at five facilities in North America. In the process, 14,000 jobs would be eliminated. Painfully, the announcement came just as the holiday season was ramping up.
Speaking on the issue, Trump noted: “To tell me a couple weeks before Christmas that she’s going to close in Ohio and Michigan—not acceptable to me. And she’s either going to open fast or somebody else is going in. But General Motors is not going to be treated well.”
For President Trump, job losses in Michigan and Ohio are especially worrisome. During the 2016 election, Trump was able to secure the White House by flipping the so-called “blue wall” of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. If Trump losses the support of Midwestern voters, his path to re-election in 2020 would become much, much tougher.
For General Motors, the layoffs come as the company prepares to transition from sedans to SUVs, crossovers, and trucks. Quite simply, Americans are no longer buying sedans, preferring SUVs and trucks instead. GM sees the restructuring as preparation for the future and claims that it remains committed to retraining the laid-off employees.
Trump even took issue with GM’s business strategy:”I think she’s making a big mistake,” Trump said. “They’ve changed the whole model of General Motors … I don’t run a car company but all-electric is not going to work. It’s wonderful to have it as a percentage of your cars but going into this model is not going to work.”
It’s not quite clear what President Trump is getting at. While some companies, like Volvo, have announced plans to eventually go “all electric,” GM has not. However, GM is investing heavily in electric technologies and self-driving cars, which seems prudent given the larger trends in the automotive industry.
For Trump, the comments mark only one of many public dustups with private business leaders. Compared to presidents past, Trump has been far more willing to air his grievances publicly.