“NAFTA is a huge problem. I think his position on trade is right on,” Dennis Williams says of Republican Trump. “When I look at the amount of money that General Motors, Ford, Toyota and Nissan are putting in Mexico…taking jobs away from our country and our communities…I think there should be consequences.”
UAW president estimates more than one-third of rank-and-file voted for Trump.
Table of Contents:
- UAW President Sees Potential Policy Ally in Trump
- NAFTA Common Enemy
DETROIT – After seeing its endorsed candidate lose a tight race for the White House, the UAW hopes President-Elect Donald Trump will keep his promises to reopen trade deals such as NAFTA and scuttle the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Union President Dennis Williams tells reporters during a roundtable discussion at UAW headquarters in Detroit he is disappointed by the results of 2016 election.
“I think that everyone I talked to has been surprised by the outcome,” Williams says. “Democracy is never easy, and sometimes the outcome isn’t what you want. But it is democracy.”
For now, Williams says he wants to wait and see if a Trump presidency measures up to the candidate’s campaign rhetoric in which he promised to champion the “forgotten man.”
“I don’t see (Trump) as a traditional Republican president,” Williams says. “He made a lot of commitments to blue-collar workers about fairness. We’ll see how what he says compares to what he does. We’ll see.
“We’re going to try and work with him as much as we can, if he chooses. We are prepared to work with (Trump) on (improving) infrastructure and jobs because we think that’s pertinent to the economy.”
Williams seems surprised by the division within the UAW between those who had gone “all-out” to support Hillary Clinton, who won the union’s official endorsement in May, and those
who rejected the Democratic nominee. He notes in Macomb County, home to 15,000 active union members, many supported Clinton challenger Bernie Sanders in the primaries before going on to vote for Trump.
Williams estimates more than one-third of the UAW’s 425,000 members voted for Trump, and the proportion of members over 50 probably were even more likely to vote for the Republican.
The union will survey its membership about the election, Williams says. “I am very interested in what drove them” to support Trump, he says. “That’s fascinating.”
Yet Williams seemingly answers his own question by noting Trump’s stance on what he called trade agreements harmful to U.S. interests resonated with union members.
“We’ve always been critical of trade deals,” the union leader says. “(Trump) surely captured the idea of working families’ frustration. Hillary Clinton got blamed for NAFTA and Donald Trump had a good message on how NAFTA has disrupted their lives and destroyed their jobs.
“They’re angry. I understand that anger. I may not agree with the way they voted, but I understand their anger.
“NAFTA is a huge problem. I think his position on trade is right on. I think that companies ought to build where they sell. When I look at the amount of money that, , Toyota and are putting in Mexico while the majority of the products are being sent back up here are taking jobs away from our country and our communities…I think there should be consequences.”
Tariffs on imports as promised by Trump, might not work because they invite retaliation, Williams says. “Trade between nations is a fact of life,” he says, but adds, “I am prepared to sit down with President-Elect Trump any time he wants” to discuss trade issues.