GM under fire from all sides

General Motors is facing political heat from both sides of the aisle in the midst of a high-stakes fight with striking autoworkers.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's newest Russia adviser, Andrew Peek, leaves post: report Hawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss Trump rips New York City sea wall: 'Costly, foolish' and 'environmentally unfriendly idea' MORE along with some of his top Democratic challengers are pressuring the company to quickly negotiate an end to the dispute after almost 50,000 employees walked off the job when talks failed between GM and the United Auto Workers (UAW) union.

Trump has long complained about GM’s ongoing disputes with its workers and bashed the company for shifting some U.S. production to Mexico. And the president is still smarting over GM’s closure of its Lordstown, Ohio, assembly plant earlier this year, which drew wide bipartisan condemnation.

Several Democrats looking to unseat Trump have also expressed solidarity with the striking GM workers, urging support for the UAW and condemning the auto company.

The controversy also comes as Trump and Democrats fight over the industrial states that drove GM’s success, where workers are asking the company to make up for offshored jobs, concessions in past negotiations and a costly taxpayer bailout.

Trump has called for a quick resolution to the strike and suggested the government could step in to settle the dispute.

“Here we go again with General Motors and the United Auto Workers,” Trump tweeted on Sunday. “Get together and make a deal!”

On Monday, he told reporters, “Hopefully, they’ll be able to work out the GM strike quickly.”

“We don’t want General Motors building plants outside of this country, and we’re very strong on that,” Trump added.

A cadre of Democratic presidential candidates, including former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden alleges Sanders campaign 'doctored video' to attack him on Social Security record Sanders campaign responds to Biden doctored video claims: Biden should 'stop trying to doctor' public record Capt. "Sully" Sullenberger pens op-ed in defense of Biden: 'I stuttered once, too. I dare you to mock me' MORE, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenThe Memo: Sanders-Warren battle could reshape Democratic primary Environmental activists interrupt Buttigieg in New Hampshire Pence to visit Iowa days before caucuses MORE (D-Mass.), Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden alleges Sanders campaign 'doctored video' to attack him on Social Security record Sanders campaign responds to Biden doctored video claims: Biden should 'stop trying to doctor' public record The Memo: Sanders-Warren battle could reshape Democratic primary MORE (I-Vt.) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegThe Memo: Sanders-Warren battle could reshape Democratic primary Environmental activists interrupt Buttigieg in New Hampshire Pence to visit Iowa days before caucuses MORE (D), took stronger positions in support of UAW.

“A job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about dignity and respect,” Biden tweeted Sunday. “America’s workers deserve better.”

Warren urged GM in a Sunday tweet “to come to the table and negotiate in good faith” with UAW.

“Auto workers deserve good wages, comprehensive benefits, and economic security. I stand with @UAW as they strike to get what they deserve,” Warren said.

The strike is only the latest fight in a long, contentious history between the auto giant and its workers.

“The history between the union and GM is not good, and I don’t just mean in the past decade,” said David Whiston, an auto industry analyst at Morningstar Ratings.

“GM is doing really well in the past few years and the union is saying, ‘We want to get paid and we want to make some things that aren’t right, right.’ ”

More than 48,000 GM employees walked off the job Sunday after UAW’s contract with the automaker lapsed without an agreement on a new one. The total stoppage of U.S. production, GM’s first since 2007, is expected to cost the company tens of millions of dollars each day while striking workers scrape by with a fraction of their normal pay.

After GM came close to collapsing during the 2008 financial crisis, a federal rescue package and UAW concessions in contract negotiations, such as a tiered compensation system for new hires, helped keep the automaker afloat. The company has since rebounded, bringing in $11 billion in profits last year despite the challenge of dealing with changing consumer preferences.

GM workers are now seeking a greater share of those profits, along with higher base pay and greater parity among full-time and temporary workers. UAW is also seeking to prevent GM from reducing the percentage of health care costs it covers for employees.

GM’s financial success and political turmoil comes at a challenging moment for U.S. automakers overall.

U.S. consumers have purchased significantly fewer sedans from GM and its domestic rivals, Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler, opting instead for SUVs and pickups. All three companies have responded by moving resources toward the booming light truck sector, along with electric and autonomous vehicles.

While GM is not the only company to lay off workers as it shifts gears, the company has drawn intense scrutiny for the way it has handled its restructuring.

GM announced on the Monday after Thanksgiving last year that it would idle four U.S. plants, ending close to 15,000 production jobs across industrial regions largely dependent on the auto industry. The news came five months after GM announced it would resume making the Chevrolet Blazer — once assembled in Wisconsin — at a production plant in Mexico.

“I don’t think anybody saw it coming outside of GM, and the fact that it was done during good economic times made some people probably feel it was unnecessary,” Whiston said of the U.S. layoffs.

“The union was already upset about the Blazer,” Whiston continued, “and once that November announcement happened, I thought that the chances of the strike was more than a remote possibility.”

Trump seized on news of the layoffs to bash GM in November, taking particular issue with the company’s decision to close the Lordstown plant in Ohio, a crucial state in the president’s electoral map.

Trump pressured GM to keep the Lordstown plant open or find another buyer to maintain the 1,637 hourly workers employed there. During a 2017 speech in Youngstown, Ohio — less than a 30-minute drive from Lordstown — the president urged GM workers not to move, pledging to bring auto jobs back into the state.

Efforts from Trump and other politicians in both parties ultimately failed, and the Lordstown plant went idle in March.

A lengthy strike could pose new economic challenges to the region as the costs of idled factories pile up for GM and local businesses. The Teamsters truck drivers union said Monday it will halt all deliveries of GM vehicles to dealerships during the strike. That decision takes an immediate bite out the company’s bottom line because GM counts revenue via sales to dealers, not retail sales to consumers.

Whiston also warned that a prolonged stoppage could pose economic issues for GM’s regional suppliers of small parts or tools.

“There’s plenty of companies throughout the Midwest, Great Lakes region, probably nationwide, that supply the auto industry,” Whiston said.

“If they’re not paying their suppliers because they don’t need to build cars,” Whiston continued, “that can take a serious ... even fatal blow to the company.”

Those factors will only add to the pressure GM is already facing from Washington.

Rep. Dan KildeeDaniel (Dan) Timothy KildeePelosi digs in on impeachment rules fight Pelosi faces decision on articles of impeachment Trump shocks, earns GOP rebukes with Dingell remarks MORE (D-Mich.), whose district includes the city of Flint, which has seen the loss of thousands of auto jobs in recent decades, said it was time for GM to repay the workers who helped the company through difficult times.

“They turned to the U.S. government, they turned to the workers of the company and said ‘help us through this difficult time,’ ” Kildee said on CNN on Tuesday.

“I think it’s a reasonable argument to make that the workers ought to get something back.”