Michigan Dem says GM cuts are a community wake-up call

Rep.-elect Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibBiden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks GOP congresswoman-elect wants to form Republican 'Squad' called 'The Force' MORE (D-Mich.) says the latest cuts at General Motors (GM) are a wake-up call for communities across the state, arguing that local officials need to do a better job of holding businesses accountable with community benefits agreements.

Tlaib told Hill.TV that automakers like GM come into cities promising jobs, but community leaders don’t often ask for anything tangible in return.

“I come from the motor city — when it comes to the big three [automakers], it’s like whatever you want, the red carpet, now we’re kind of waking up to the fact that we can’t do that anymore and that’s where I’m consistently pushing the community benefits agreement [CBA] process,” Tlaib told Hill.TV correspondent Jamal Simmons during an interview that aired on Thursday.

Tlaib is referring to a type of relatively common contract known as a CBA, an agreement that’s used as a way to address income inequity in poorer areas across the country.

Signed by a coalition of community groups and real estate developers, a CBA ensures that the developer provides economic developments in exchange for support from locals in the area.

The Democrat, who became one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress in the midterm elections, emphasized the importance of using public funds wisely, especially in low-income neighborhoods.

“You want to get our public money — this is money that comes out of school aide, comes out of city services — this is real money that we could be collecting,” she told Hill.TV.

The incoming freshman Democrat will represent Michigan’s 13th Congressional district starting in January. 

Tlaib is the first Palestinian-American women to serve in Congress.

She credits her historic victory to her activism and grassroots campaign in communities across the district.

“I don’t underestimate the direct human contact ... not any mailers, robocalls, ads of the television screen — any of that could ever replace the direct human contact that you have with people,” she said, adding that her campaign did 55,000 doors over the course of just six months.

But she joked that most people still know her as the “Koch girl” due to her previous activism in the Detroit area against the conservative Koch Brothers.

“It’s interesting, to this day, people still can’t pronounce my name…but they’ll be like, ‘oh, you’re the Koch girl’ “, she said.

—Tess Bonn