Here’s what you call the definition of a lousy run of luck.
First, you lose your job when your plant closes.
Then, because you’re the union president, you try desperately to negotiate to keep both your friends’ jobs and your own.
And then, to make matters worse, President Donald Trump gets on Twitter and blames you for not doing enough.
Welcome to Dave Green’s Sunday.
Green, the president of UAW Local 1112 in Lordstown, Ohio, has been the face of worker efforts to save the 1,700 jobs lost when GM chose to shutter their northeast Ohio plant earlier this month. On Sunday, he appeared in a five–minute spot on Fox News.
Somebody powerful was watching.
“Democrat UAW Local 1112 President David Green ought to get his act together and produce,” President Trump tweeted shortly after Green’s appearance.
“G.M. let our Country down, but other much better car companies are coming into the U.S. in droves. I want action on Lordstown fast. Stop complaining and get the job done! 3.8 % Unemployment!”
When Green talked to Mahoning County Democratic Chair Dave Betras on Monday morning, he appeared to be taking the Twitter attack in stride.
“He’s like, ‘He can pick on me all he wants,’” Betras said. ”‘If he gets us a product — that’s all I care about. If him picking on me means we get a product, then I’m happy.’”
Green himself was unavailable early Monday — a spokesman for “Drive it Home,” a public campaign to fight for Lordstown, said he was doing post–closure work at the plant — but Rep. Tim Ryan, D–Niles, was surprised that Green’s relatively mild comments drew such a sharp reaction.
“He was just saying, generally, everyone needs to do more to help us,” he said. “He’s the head of the local union of a plant that just lost three shifts. Of course he wants more help.”
Ryan called Trump’s tweet “kicking a guy when he’s down.”
“It’s incredible that the president used his office to go after somebody who is doing nothing but working hard to help the factory and help families who are going through all the pain and suffering and displacement they’re going through ... This is the most powerful guy in the world, and he’s picking on a local union officer?”
Ryan has taken Green to the past two State of the Union addresses, hoping to raise awareness about the plight of the plant. Green has written Trump twice — in July of last year and February of this year.
Until Sunday, he had not heard back from Trump, according to Ryan.
Green’s initial response was muted. Instead of fighting back, he said, “we’re doing everything we can ... to convince General Motors CEO Mary Barra to reinvest in GM Lordstown.”
Workers and GM, he said, are planning on meeting in the fall “and we are focused on getting a new product in Lordstown.”
But Trump, who is scheduled to visit Lima and Canton on Wednesday, still wasn’t happy.
“General Motors and the UAW are going to start “talks” in September/October,” he tweeted at 4:37 a.m. Monday. “Why wait, start them now!”
He also fired off criticism at Barra.
“Just spoke to Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors about the Lordstown Ohio plant. I am not happy that it is closed when everything else in our Country is BOOMING. I asked her to sell it or do something quickly. She blamed the UAW Union — I don’t care, I just want it open!”
During a visit to northeast Ohio in July of 2017, Trump promised residents that jobs would return. “Don’t move,” he told an enthusiastic crowd. “Don’t sell your house.”
Trump received solid support in 2016 from a region that has traditionally been one of the diehard Democratic areas of the state. But it’s unclear how the closure of Lordstown will impact his popularity, and some wonder if his attacks on Green and Barra are a way of deflecting blame on him.
In his Fox News appearance, Green acknowledged as much, saying while some might blame Trump, others would continue to support him.
Betras said many in the region view Trump as “a big middle finger to Washington and to the elites.”
“He represents an anger they have that the system is rigged,” he said. “And in a lot of ways, the system is rigged.”
While Green didn’t defend himself publicly Monday, others all but lined up to do so.
“Mr. President, Dave Green and the workers at @UAW Local 1112 have shown grit and determination in the face of adversity, fighting for Lordstown from day one,” tweeted Sen. Sherrod Brown, D–Ohio. “Instead of attacking workers, it’s past time you stood up to GM and joined the fight.”
The UAW international union tweeted today: “Corporations close plants, workers don’t. Join us, @realDonaldTrump in leaving no stone unturned against @GM. Don’t let GM off the hook.”
Lordstown Mayor Arno Hill, a Republican, one of four co-chairs of the “Drive it Home” campaign — a push to save the Lordstown plant —said Green has worked tirelessly for the plant. Green is also a co-chair of the campaign.
The mayor said he was surprised by the tweet but, like Green, figured if it drew attention to the plight of Lordstown, wasn’t an entirely bad thing.
“It may be a little unorthodox, but if it gets people’s attention and if the results show it, who am I to criticize the guy, right?” he said of Trump.
Another person he wasn’t prepared to criticize: Green.
The two went to the Detroit Auto Show to lobby for Lordstown. They’ve met with state leaders. They’ve met with Barra.
“Dave and I stand hand in hand to do what’s best for the plant,” he said.