Days after slamming the Detroit automaker for moving jobs to China while shrinking its US workforce, President Trump will meet with GM CEO Mary Barra in the Oval Office on Thursday, Reuters reported.
The meeting comes at a critical time: The White House is scrambling to convince GM and other automakers not to sign on to an agreement with the State of California to impose stricter fuel efficiency standards on their cars.
But that's not the only issue that will be discussed.
According to Reuters, the agenda for the meeting will include the US-China trade conflict, ongoing contract talks between GM and its union employees and revising vehicle fuel efficiency standards. The White House confirmed Trump would meet with Barra at 1:45 p.m. ET in the Oval Office. GM declined to comment on the meetings.
Barra, of course, commands a massive blue-collar workforce spread across the Midwest, including tens of thousands of workers in critical swing states like Michigan and Ohio. She's in the middle of contentious negotiations with UAW workers (of which the company employs some 46,000) over a new contract, and UAW leaders have threatened to strike. Trump definitely wants to keep those workers happy so they'll have a reason to back him in 2020.
Last week, Trump bashed GM on Twitter, castigating the company for moving more jobs overseas, and suggesting that Barra - who earlier this year shuttered the company's massive Lordestown Ohio production complex - consider moving production back to the US.
Trump also bashed GM, once "the Giant of Detroit", for moving "major plants to China, BEFORE I CAME INTO OFFICE."
General Motors, which was once the Giant of Detroit, is now one of the smallest auto manufacturers there. 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?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 30, 2019
The president has sought to portray himself as a friend to American blue-collar workers, and union workers in Detroit are part of a key constituency for him that's stretched across several swing states in the midwest, including Michigan and Ohio. Previously, Trump attacked GM for moving production to Mexico while closing plants in Michigan, Ohio and Maryland. The president has threatened to end subsidies to GM, and in June his administration threatened to end subsidies for the automaker, while rejecting a request made in June to waive tariffs on Buick Envisions made in China.
GM has repeatedly insisted that its China operations aren't a threat to US jobs.
Back in July, several of the world's biggest automakers signed a deal with the state of California to implement more strict fuel economy standards. The White House has vehemently opposed this deal, and have been begging GM not to join the agreement.
Trump even tweeted about the deal a few weeks ago, accusing the signatories of "rolling over" by agreeing to charge consumers more for a car that isn't as "safe or good."
The Legendary Henry Ford and Alfred P. Sloan, the Founders of Ford Motor Company and General Motors, are “rolling over” at the weakness of current car company executives willing to spend more money on a car that is not as safe or good, and cost $3,000 more to consumers. Crazy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 21, 2019
GM hasn't backed the deal because it claims California hasn't given it enough credit for the electric vehicles that the company is rolling out.
More recently, Trump has praised GM for entering talks to potentially sell an idled Ohio plant an electric truck manufacturer.