After calling him “an enemy” of the middle class, the UAW hopes to capitalize on President Trump’s ‘Buy American’ message.
The United Auto Workers, whose president once called now-President Donald Trump “an enemy” of the middle class, is hoping to capitalize on President Trump’s “America First” (Buy American, Hire American) campaign by airing its own “Buy American” television ads, according to the USA Today.
The president of the United Auto Workers union declared Thursday that the “Buy American” movement is back, praised President Trump for criticizing outsourcing and reiterated his call for the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
UAW President Dennis Williams told reporters he’s “in discussions” to air TV commercials promoting urging all to “Buy American” and wants to make it easier for consumers to identify foreign-made vehicles at car dealerships.
“If it’s not built in the United States then don’t buy it,” Williams told reporters Thursday.
Williams urged car buyers to buy union-made vehicles first, then those made at non-union factories in the U.S.
“In essence, he’s telling people to buy a U.S.-made Toyota Camry over a Mexican-made Ford Fusion, which may put him at odds with Detroit automakers,” writes the Associated Press’ Tom Krisher.
Over the last 40 years, the once-powerful United Auto Workers has lost over two thirds of its membership in the United States as American car buyers shifted toward foreign cars, factories became more automated, and American carmakers began building plants in other countries like Mexico.
Though the UAW’s membership losses have started reversing ever so slightly in recent years, the UAW’s ongoing problems in trying to unionize the autoworkers employed by foreign-owned auto plants in the South remain an issue for the UAW’s leaders.
For the most part, gone are the days of union members burning—and union halls banning—foreign-built cars. However, for the UAW, growing the union remains a do-or-die priority, which is why Trump’s strong stance on trade resonated with many blue-collar workers throughout the country.
Even though UAW leaders acknowledged then-candidate Donald Trump’s message on trade—particularly NAFTA—and a third of UAW members voted for Trump in November, the union was still a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton and Democrats, giving millions to Clinton and her party.
Since Trump’s win over Clinton, though, the UAW has had to walk a fine line between remaining critical of Trump and trying to work with him.
On the one hand, shortly after the election, the UAW’s Williams told reporters he is “fully aligned” with then-President elect Trump in the issue of trade.
While, on the other hand, the UAW recently condemned President’s Trump’s controversial seven-nation travel moratorium, stating the UAW “denounces any policy that judges people based on their religion or nation of origin.”
Ironically, the UAW’s new plans to jump on board Trump’s America First campaign with its own Buy American campaign may put the union in a difficult position with some of its global union partners—like that of IG Metall, the German union that the UAW has sought for help it unionize Volkswagen’s mostly union-free plant in Tennessee.