Trump team claims credit for jobs at Ford that were negotiated by a union

Ford’s 130 new jobs are part of a 2015 UAW contract.

President Donald Trump speaking to auto executives on March 15. CREDIT: AP Photo/Evan Vucci
President Donald Trump speaking to auto executives on March 15. CREDIT: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Early Tuesday morning, President Trump tweeted in anticipation of a “big announcement” on “JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!” from Ford coming later in the day.

Later on, the announcement came out: Ford plans to invest $1.2 billion in three plants in Michigan, creating 130 new jobs at one of them.

Yet despite efforts by Trump and his team to take credit for the news, the real credit lies elsewhere: the United Auto Workers union.

In 2015, the UAW negotiated a contract with Ford that included a commitment from the company to invest $9 billion in U.S. plants, including $4.8 billion specifically in Michigan, and thus create or retain 8,500 jobs.

The company confirmed that most of its announcement Tuesday was simply making good on the contract. “Much of today’s announcement reflects commitments made during the 2015 UAW contract negotiations,” a Ford spokesperson told ThinkProgress. “We committed to adding $9 billion investment and to create or secure 8,500 hourly jobs at Ford’s U.S. manufacturing facilities during the contract.”

Company executives said as much. “These Michigan Assembly Plant and Romeo Engine plant announcements are consistent with what we agreed to and talked about with the UAW in 2015 negotiations,” Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of the Americas, told the Detroit Free Press.

There is one bit of news: an additional $200 million investment to add a new data center at its Flat Rock plant, where it already announced it would spend more after scrapping plans to build a plant in Mexico. This investment is separate from the UAW contract because there are no hourly jobs there, according to the spokesperson.

None of this stopped Trump’s advisers from linking the jobs to recent actions by the president. Presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway tweeted the announcement, saying, “Two weeks after @POTUS met with auto execs.”

And during his press briefing, Press Secretary Sean Spicer reiterated this idea. “The president was pleased to see that Ford announced $1.2 billion investment in three manufacturing facilities in Michigan just two weeks after automobile executives came to the White House and met with the president,” he said. “This adds to the growing wave of positive news, jobs news, under the president.”

Later in the conference when Spicer was asked whether the president did something in his meeting with industry executives that led to Ford’s announcement, Spicer responded, “I think there’s been some regulatory efforts and some commitments on the regulatory efforts going forward in the future that I think may have played a role.”

Trump has followed this playbook many times since assuming the presidency: taking credit for company announcements on investment in American jobs that aren’t actually new or thanks to his administration.

Last week, Charter Communications announced at the White House that it would hire 20,000 people and invest $25 billion — goals it made public in 2015 as it was trying to win approval of its merger with Time Warner Cable.

The $20 billion investment and 45,000 jobs announced by Exxon and touted by Trump were in the works since 2012.

A commitment SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son made to Trump to add 8,000 jobs at Sprint and SoftBank are actually part of a deal announced before the election.

The 3,000 new jobs Intel announced at the White House are part of plans the company first announced alongside President Obama.

The increase in production that led Lockheed-Martin to add 1,800 jobs was in the works for years.

Other companies have made this explicit. The day it announced 2,000 new jobs, Fiat-Chrysler told ThinkProgress it had nothing to do with Trump’s victory. General Motors insisted that its 1,950 new jobs were planned long before November.

Trump did strike a deal with Carrier to retain about 800 jobs in Indiana that were slated to be shifted abroad. But 1,300 jobs are still going to move.