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Inside the Trump Storm with an Ohio Union Boss

Michael Swensen for BuzzFeed News

Dave Green, president of the UAW Local 1112, representing the Assembly Assembly of Lordstown General Motors, represents a portrait on his desk on Wednesday, March 20, 2019.


1; It was just past 2 p.m. Wednesday when Dave Green had to switch his small office at United Auto Workers Hall to an impromptu news conference.

National media had been calling since Sunday when Donald Trump, US President, deleted a surprise Twitter attack on Green Local 1112's president.

He had heard from Associated Press, CNN, and "Chris Something "from MSNBC. ("Who is the guy … Chris Matthews?") And now there was international media. Green – suddenly in high demand for a guy representing workers laid off from General Motors & # 39; Lordstown plant near Youngstown, Ohio – had double-treated journalists from a Dutch financial publication and BuzzFeed News. Oh, and a Fox camera will soon push in for a live TV hit.

"Do you want me to talk to you both at once?" He asked.

Green, who turns 49 on Friday, has quite a week. The fracas suggested with a look at Fox News, where Green was asked Trump's Saturday tweet pushes GM to reopen or find another use for the Lordstown facility. Green had twice written to Trump and asked for his help in the matter. Saturday's tweet, he said, was not enough help "and I do not know it will be."

Trump watched. Not long after the segment, the president turned off a tweet due to Green for Lordstown's situation.

Democrat UAW Local 1112 President David Green should get his act together and produce. G.M. Let the country go down, but other much better car companies come into the US in droves. I want action at Lordstown fast. Stop complaining and get the job done! 3.8% Unemployment!

By that time, Green had left the Youngstown studio where he sat for the satellite interview, and was on his way to letting out a friend's dog's dog. Then he laid me up. I just drove … and my phone started to blow up. People shielded me on the screen. & # 39; Trump called your name! & # 39; "

Gemini puzzled UAW members and their allies in society.

" My first reaction was, "It's weird," "James Dignan, head of Youngstown / Warren Regional Chamber, told BuzzFeed News." I wonder why he called out Dave Green of all people. … There is no fault of being there for lack of product, lack of agreement or lack of sales. "

Green said the members were" pissed "over Trump's tweet, but he also received voicemail from people who said I must take care of, and why don't I bring GM back?

At the moment Green wasn't sure How to treat what had happened. "What does this mean?" he wondered. It is very overwhelming. "

Michael Swensen for BuzzFeed News

A sign "Save this plant" is reflected in a sausage outside the Lordstown GM plant on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. It was because things were about to become weirder. Trump attack the country that recently announced democratic presidential candidate Beto O & # 39; Rourke is preparing to bring his much-hyped tour through Ohio. Democrats in the state called on Rourke to meet people in Lordstown, even after it looked as if he would just have time for a crowded Cleveland bar.

"I worked here late," Green said, "and got a message on my phone:" Hey, this is Beto. Drive past Lordstown. Do you mind if I stop and say hello? "I was like," I guess not. Will you be on my table? "" (Green then clarified that he did not actually ask that question, a reference to Rourke's habit of jumping on the tables of his campaign adventures.)

Green appreciated the visit as R & R's Rourke Broadcasting on Facebook.

By Wednesday, Green was entertained by all the attention. "The camera guy freaks me out," green crying as a photojournalist circled his desk snapping pictures.

"Is my hair ok?" He asked playfully a little later, when he was preparing for a Fox News encore. (This time the camera came to him.)

It would be a busy time for Green even without the political theater. The latest Chevrolet Cruze rolled off the Lordstown assembly line two weeks ago, and he is among about 200 GM employees who have been working to meet door, fender and other service contracts.

In Lordstown, UAW leaders are local celebrities. The plant has been the economic engine of Youngstown and the surrounding Mahoning Valley region for many years, a constant even after the implosion of the steel industry. Fear of a shuttered GM factory has also been a constant, giving Green and its predecessors a respected and influential role in society, working with the Chamber of Commerce such as Dignan, and a common presence on night news. Green followed his father to Lordstown, first as a summer worker in 1989, but so noble was the union that he called his father – a member of the management – to crush him in that direction.

Green knows that organized work does not thrive with heroic reputation everywhere, and he knows that it has become particularly true in the political climate over the past 10 years.

"Is it assholes in unions? Yes, he said." It is assholes in the church, but I believe in God. I think that's the same. The Church does not consist of the priests; it consists of the congregation. Trade unions do not consist of their leaders; [they’re] consists of their people. "

" Is it assholes in trade unions? Yes, "said Green." It is assholes in the church, but I believe in God. "

The biggest challenge for Lordstown has been a shrinking market for small cars. The compact Cruze did well during the recession and when gas prices were skyrocketing. But sales have declined. November 9, 2016 – the day after Trump was elected with the help of voters in Lordstown's Trumbull County, who went Republican for the first time since 1972 – GM announced that it was eliminating a shift at the facility. Union officials watched on the go spooky, even after Trump had fought in places like Youngstown on a pledge to skip the manufacturing economy of the industrial Midwest.

The UAW had two associations representing Lordstown at that time. Local 1714, which Green had led during auto bailout and recycling years, represented metal fabrication and stamping division. Local 1112 represented the assembly line. In a move designed to demonstrate a commitment to compromise and save company costs, the mergers merged in 2017. "UAW leaders: The merger will secure the future," read the headline of Youngstown Vindicator.

"Basically, it created a lot of hard feelings," Green said. "There was always some competition there, right? Same team, had the same colors, but had different numbers. I think the members recognized: We must do what we have to do to keep our jobs here. So you make sacrifices." 19659004] Green was elected president of the new 1112 in April 2018. "I found out April 10 that I won," he said. "April 13, General Motors announced that they would eliminate the second shift."

More than 2,000 unions had disappeared since the end of 2016. Lordstown was down to one shift and about 1500 UAW workers.

"As soon as I came in, I knew I needed to do something to try to persuade General Motors to invest in a future product here," Green says. "One shift is not a good place to be. When you work on one shift, you know that the company cannot survive. "

Green, with the help of the chamber and other community leaders, created the Drive It Home campaign, a lobbying and PR press to save the plant. Politicians from both parties joined them at the launch in November in the UAW hall. [19659004] Just a week later, GM announced that it would run out of Lordstown, Trump tweets followed Democrats, including Sherrod Brown of Ohio, argued that the president's tax policy had made it easier for GM to produce cars in other countries and undermine the populism and work of the working class. America Great Again messaging services that had resonated with workers, including many at GM. Green estimates that about 40% of his members – despite UAW's approval for Hillary Clinton – voted for Trump in the 2016 election.

Michael Swensen for BuzzFeed News

A makeshift sanctuary sits outside the Lordstown GM plant on Wednesday, March 20, 2019.

In his office, Green shows framed pictures of himself with the last two Democratic presidents, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and with former vice president Joe Biden, who could soon announce that he is driving to be the next. But, apart from R&D, 2020 competitors are not beating down Green's door.

"I've heard from Kamala Harris' campaign," he said, championed the California Senator's first name as Kamalya . "They were interested in what was happening here."

Brown, who recently decided to run for president, is a familiar face. (Green makes a pretty solid impression of Brown's raspy voice.) It's also Tim Ryan, who represents Lordstown in Congress, and has twice invited Green to the Union State as a guest. "Timmy is my friend," Green said. "I have known Tim for 20 years. I think he can run, yes."

Ryan called GM's announcement in November November "the new Black Monday" – a depressing look back to the day in 1977 when Youngstown Sheet and Tube announced plans about closing his biggest steelworks and signaling Dave has been working around the clock to save these jobs, families and the community, Ryan says Sunday after Trump's tweet.

"Since it was announced that GM would close Lordstown, Dave has been working around the clock to help these jobs, 19659004] Green said he did not personally take Trump's tweet, but believes that it could cost the Presidential support from Valley voters and from GM. – workers who supported him over Clinton.

"I think it's going to depend on how all this plays out," said Green. "There are some people who have already given up. And I think there are some people who will never give up. »

Evidence of a society that will not give up on GM is everywhere.

On Wednesday, a "Save Me" banner was wrapped around one of the poles carrying the sign at an entrance to the Lordstown plant. Drive It Home posters dotted yards and windows to local businesses in the village and nearby areas such as Austintown, where Green lives and owes its growth decades ago, to GM families settling for good schools and a modest suburban life.

Hope can be hard to hold on to. With retirement more than five years away and two daughters – one should finish from high school, another should have graduated from college – Green needs to work. (Green is also finished with another master's degree in interdisciplinary communication.) He talked hypothetically about how he eventually had to transfer to another GM plant, but then he quickly became aware that he described a scenario of defeat.

"I plan to have General Motors put a product here and live here for the launch of the new product," he said. "I don't have much hurry. I can't go. People look for me for leadership right now. If I post a transfer and leave, that's what the captain took the last lifeboat."

Green and others hope something good can come from Trump's tweet. Perhaps it calls attention to the challenges of Lordstown and helps accelerate a solution. "What is important to us is important to the White House," Dignan, chamber leader said.

So Green will embrace his instant fame. When he unpacked Wednesday's interview, he had a few minutes to save before his Fox News hit. Salena Zito, the Washington Examiner and the New York Post-writer based themselves in Pittsburgh's turnpike, waited for him as he returned to the association's hall. It was rumored that Trump – who had previously landed 200 miles away in Lima, Ohio, where he wanted to speak to a military tanker – could stop.

Green resigned. Wouldn't be a bad idea, he said. But he hadn't heard anything from the Secret Service.

Instead, Trump resumed his attack on Green from a distance.

"They're not honest, and they should lower your fees, by the way," said Trump in Lima, who broadly refers to union leaders. "As an example," he added, "they could have held General Motors. They could have kept it in the beautiful plant of Lordstown. They could have kept it. Leave your consideration."

And even if he never made it to Lordstown, the village was very thought of him.

"Lordstown is a great area," Trump said. "I guess I like it because I won so much there."

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