“General Motors, which was once the Giant of Detroit, is now one of the smallest auto manufacturers there,” the tweet said. “They moved major plants to China, BEFORE I CAME INTO OFFICE. This was done despite the saving help given them by the USA. Now they should start moving back to America again?”
Sparking Trump’s ire may have been a Bloomberg article published Thursday, which indicated that GM now has the smallest UAW workforce of any of the Detroit Big Three automakers. GM has 46,000 unionized employees on its payroll, 1,200 less than Fiat Chrysler and a whopping 9,000 less than Ford Motor Company.
Bloomberg’s report notes that GM was once the largest private sector employer in the United States. Rising labor costs in the US have driven the company to set up new plants in Mexico and China, however, reducing the size of its American blue collar workforce.
The automaker announced last year that it would close four of its American plants as it restructured its business to focus on profit-heavy trucks, crossovers and SUVs. GM believes the automotive industry is set for a downturn and is thus looking to reduce overhead and ensure the company is running efficiently should another recession hit.
Plants GM has closed in the past year include Lordstown Assembly in Ohio and Warren Transmission in Michigan. The Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant will also close its doors before year’s end.
Trump’s criticisms of GM come as the automaker is locked in heated contract negotiations with the UAW. The worker’s union is hoping to secure increased wages and receive new allocated products as part of the new contract, but GM is keen to reduce its employment costs and continue down the path of streamlining its business and reducing bloat.
“GM’s focus during negotiations is to reach an agreement that builds a strong future for our employees and our business,” GM spokesman David Barnas told Bloomberg.
Forty years ago, GM was the largest private sector employer in the United States, employing over 618,000 Americans – 511,000 of which were hourly. Part of the reason its workforce was so large at the time was due to the fact that it made many parts in-house, instead of relying on suppliers.
The automaker has relied more on its foreign plants in recent years, allocating products like the new Chevrolet Blazer to Mexico and becoming the first automaker to sell a Chinese-made car in the US with the Buick Envision.