UAW’s David Green on Championing Labor

United Auto Workers (UAW) Region 2B Director David Green joins the show to talk about the Trump and Biden administrations' approaches to labor.

Part of a Series

United Auto Workers (UAW) Region 2B Director David Green joins the show to talk about the Trump and Biden administrations’ approaches to labor and the closure of an auto plant in Ohio under former President Donald Trump’s administration. Daniella also revisits a November 2023 interview with CAP Action’s Brendan Duke on the need to fund the government.


Daniella Gibbs Léger: Hey everyone, welcome back to “The Tent,” your place for policy, politics, and progress. I’m Daniella Gibbs Léger.

Colin Seeberger: And I’m Colin Seeberger. Daniella, I know 2024 is a big year. And thankfully, because it’s a leap year, we get graced with an extra day, which is what everybody is looking forward to.

Gibbs Léger: That’s fantastic. I am so sure that that’s what everyone needs, is this day to go even longer. Well, let’s go ahead and leap into this episode. With MAGA Republicans kicking the can down the road yet again on funding the government this week, we wanted to bring back an interview we did during one of the many government shutdown threats of the last few months. It’s with Brendan Duke, senior fellow for budget policy at CAP Action, and it reminds us how repetitive and dangerous their tactics of avoiding their basic governing responsibilities are.

Seeberger: But first, we do have to get to some news.

Gibbs Léger: We do, Colin, and I want to touch on two milestones coming up. Next week marks five years since General Motors closed a plant in Lordstown, Ohio, ultimately costing 4,300 factory workers their jobs. And this week marks one year since Stellantis—formerly known as Chrysler—announced it was closing its plant in Belvidere, Illinois.

But unlike in Lordstown, thanks to the collective action of United Auto Workers during the last year’s strike against the Big Three automakers, workers at that Stellantis plant in Belvidere were able to get their employer to reopen the plant, hire back 1,200 workers, and hire an additional 1,300 employees at the nearby factory—resulting in a net doubling of jobs in the surrounding area.

The difference between these two stories in 2019 and 2023? Former President Trump’s response compared to President Biden’s. In Lordstown, Trump promised workers their jobs were coming back and urged them not to move. But when GM announced the plant closure, he did basically nothing to push back. Instead, he attacked the local union leader for pleading with the Trump administration to intervene and get GM to reverse its decision. The plant was sold to a company called Lordstown Motors. Sensing an opportunity to stanch the political bleeding, then-President Trump famously held a pep rally with Lordstown Motors at the White House, only for it to ultimately come out that the company lied to the public and its investors and eventually filed for bankruptcy.

Even though the Biden administration has helped spur new investments by the auto industry in the region, thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, Lordstown is still recovering from the damage of the 2019 plant closure. So let’s be clear: Trump could have gotten involved. But instead, he decided to manipulate the people of Lordstown with false promises and then bail on them in their time of need.

Seeberger: He did, Daniella. And just like you said, his approach from President Biden’s response last year in Belvidere could not be more radically different in response to Stellantis’ closure announcement. They couldn’t close the plant because of a previous UAW contract, but they idled it and laid off 1,200 workers. They even denied their severance packages unless they uprooted their lives to move across the country to work in a different plant.

But unlike Trump, President Biden—he jumped into action. He worked the phones, talking to Stellantis executives, trying to persuade them to overturn their decision. He worked hand in hand with the local UAW representative in Belvidere. He also took to the picket lines to support workers when they were out there striking for a better contract. UAW President Shawn Fain later credited Biden specifically—not only with having the workers’ back and helping save the plant, but with really helping save the entire community.

The stories of the Lordstown and Belvidere plants demonstrate a hugely stark contrast between the approaches of Trump and Biden toward America’s auto industry workers and corporate greed. I mean, let’s remember General Motors—like the other major American automakers—they were making huge, huge profits in 2019 when they announced that they were going to shut down the plant in Lordstown.

And what did President Trump do to hold GM accountable? He did nothing. He went and attacked David Green, a local UAW representative who we’re going to talk to in just a few minutes, and basically gave them a free pass. In Lordstown, Trump let workers down by failing to enact policies to protect them and their jobs, and really left UAW members hanging out to dry—the same UAW members he later snubbed by failing to support their nationwide strike in 2019.

Meanwhile, President Biden worked in direct collaboration with organized labor. He helped nearly double the job opportunities in Belvidere, thanks to the bills he championed as president, as you were mentioning. And he also really helped spur a renaissance for organized labor in this country by making it clear that the person with the highest level of public office in this country has the backs of working people. He became the first president in American history to join a picket line, standing in solidarity with those workers.

Gibbs Léger: That’s right. And as the daughter of two union parents, that really touched my heart. And when you look at the contrast here, I think it’s safe to say that President Biden is the most pro-labor president we’ve had in recent history.

But listen—don’t just take our word for it. We have a special guest here to help us break this down: David Green, director of UAW Region 2B, which represents union members in Ohio and Indiana. Dave, welcome to the show.

David Green: Thanks so much for having me here today.

Gibbs Léger: So to begin with—you have a strong connection to what happened in Lordstown. And you even asked President Trump to help there while GM was in the process of shutting down the plant. What kind of response did you get?

Green: So in 2018—it was the Monday after Thanksgiving—GM announced we would be unallocated. Contractually, they weren’t able to close the plants. So they, as stated, idled us and put us in limbo. We had started some community action program drive at home, trying to get, [to] expose the corporate greed that’s going on there, trying to expose how important that facility was to the community. I wrote a couple letters to President Donald Trump and got no reply. I didn’t even get a “I got your letter” letter. Crickets.

And we just continued to go on and talk about the injustice that we were facing and the hardship that the community and members who worked in that facility were facing. Meanwhile, the previous president was talking about, “Well, move those jobs down south and shuffle them back up here, and those people will just be glad to have a job.”

And the reality is a lot of our members then—they were working two jobs, and they weren’t the best jobs in the world. Companies have been making billions of dollars off of our labor, and we haven’t seen raises in, like, 20 years. So it was tough, but it was definitely a stark contrast between what I went through and what I saw happen at Belvidere here this last year.

Seeberger: Now, Dave, Trump had representatives from Lordstown Motors—which is, as you know, the company that purchased the GM plant—come to a rally and do a dog-and-pony show at the White House, where he lifted them up as a success story—and one that was going to help the community. But that company ended up lying to investors. They failed to meet their goals and ultimately ended up filing for bankruptcy, all less than a year after purchasing the plant and that White House dog-and-pony show. What ripple effects did the plant closure cause for the local community, even as Trump was claiming this false redemption narrative?

Green: Yep. So I grew up in the Youngstown area. I went to school in Youngstown, Ohio. And ever since the steel mills, there’s always been this hope that somebody’s going to come in and help save the valley. So when Lordstown was going to close and they made that announcement, people were concerned. Northside Hospital—I was born there—closed. We had trucking companies, suppliers, barber shops, restaurants.

It really takes a toll on a community when the major employer—when there’s not many in a community like that—decides to pack up and leave. So people were still struggling there. Obviously, there’s an Altium plant, a joint venture between General Motors and LG in the Lordstown area. And so we’ve been fighting to get those workers higher wages and a standard of living that’s going to be able to help support the community.

Gibbs Léger: So I know as a UAW leader, you must have been following what happened in Belvidere this past year at the Stellantis plant. From your perspective, what did President Biden do that led to such a dramatically different outcome?

Green: President Biden actually went to the Belvidere plant. And look, not only is that plant coming back—there’s going to be a battery, lithium ion battery manufacturing facility in that location. We’re going to double the workforce there. And so just having the support in the White House—I don’t think people recognize how important that is for working people to have somebody that listens and actually takes action.

Seeberger: Now Dave, you obviously are very familiar with President Biden and the Biden administration’s efforts to support auto workers who have been fighting for more job security, better pay, more worker protections, right? Can you talk a bit more broadly about what President Biden and the Biden administration have done to support organized labor more broadly?

Green: Well, obviously he’s the most labor-friendly president we’ve ever had. I would agree 110 percent with that. I will tell you an example. We were in Washington, D.C., we had our CAP Conference where we go lobby senators, congressmen, and talk to our members about the importance of politics in work.

That being said, the UAW doesn’t just represent auto workers. We have people that make steel, people who work in hospitals, municipalities, and a variety of different things. Long story short, we have a facility in Zanesville, Ohio. The Department of Energy had came out with a new ruling about changing the steel from go’s to no’s, which was a grain-orientated steel to a morpheus steel. The morpheus steel brings chemicals from China, or Asia specifically, to create this steel. So we had a problem with the ruling. This was going to hurt our members down in Zanesville, and ultimately some workers over in Butler, Pennsylvania, as well.

Having the ability to sit down and talk with the head of the Department of Energy, the Department of Labor, about the issues that are concerning our members, that ultimately some of these policies could put people out of work—they listened to us. They’re going to change the ruling, and they’re going to do what’s right by the American worker. I can’t really overstate how important it is having somebody just listen and take your concerns seriously and then take action on them. It’s very refreshing.

Seeberger: And he’s sure as heck not going to be backing a national right-to-work law like the former president has been calling for, for some time. So Dave, thank you so much for your time. It was great speaking with you and learning more about how these issues have been playing out on the ground, and why it’s so important to have a fighter for workers in the White House.

Green: Absolutely. Thanks for having me, guys. Appreciate it.

Seeberger: That’s all the time we have for today. If there’s anything else you’d like us to cover on the pod, hit us up on Twitter @TheTentPod. That’s @TheTentPod.

Gibbs Léger: And stick around for my interview from November last year with Brendan Duke in just a beat.

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 Gibbs Léger: Brendan Duke is a senior director for Economic Policy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. He previously served as a senior adviser to Senator Michael Bennet and staff director of the U.S. Senate Finance Subcommittee on Taxation and IRS Oversight. Before that, he was a senior policy adviser at the White House National Economic Council. He has also held positions at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the U.S. Congressional Joint Economic Committee. Brendan, thanks so much for joining us on “The Tent.”

Brendan Duke: Thanks for having me.

Gibbs Léger: And welcome back to CAP Action.

Duke: I’m so excited to be here.

Gibbs Léger: Yes. We are so excited to have you back. So I want to start by just taking a step back. Congress has a basic responsibility to fund the government. Why has that proven to be so challenging this year? And can you remind our listeners, how did we get to this moment? This is not the first time this year that our Congress has been desperately trying to delay a government shutdown.

Duke: I think that exasperation in your voice is what everybody’s feeling. Look, the kernel of the problem here is that House Republicans are extreme, and they come in 31 different flavors of extremity. They tried to use the debt ceiling—that is, the threat of defaulting on our country’s debt—to enact an immediate 30 percent cut in the nondefense bucket of spending we use to feed families, protect the environment, administer Social Security, and more. And President Biden made a deal with Kevin McCarthy last summer that would cut spending without gutting whole swaths of the budget. But then House Republicans decided they didn’t want to abide by that agreement, and they even threw Kevin McCarthy out because of it.

And so they’re the dog catching the car now. They wanted to cut government spending but failed to pass their own appropriation bills and enact those cuts. We even saw this morning that House Republicans actually had to pull one of their bills because some House Republicans thought it was too extreme, while others thought it wasn’t extreme enough. So there’s no strategy here for funding the government. They also want to look like they’re doing more than kicking the can down the road, the same way Kevin McCarthy did right before they fired him.

And that’s where Speaker Johnson comes in with his idea of the laddered CR, where funding for 20 percent of the federal government will run out on January 19, and funding for the remaining 80 percent will run out on February 2. The good news is this doesn’t contain any of the direct cuts conservatives have been seeking. The bad news is this just opens the door for more chaos with potential for a two-step shutdown, with part of it happening in late January and with the rest happening in February.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah, this is exhausting. And another thing that it’s important to remember is that a government shutdown actually has real tangible impacts on everyday Americans, like our economy and our security. So can you talk about some of the things that could happen if the government were to shut down? And particularly in this fraught international moment, what a shutdown would do to our national security and our counterterrorism efforts?

Duke: Sure. So shutdowns are an embarrassment. Let’s start there. They’re completely unnecessary. The only reason we’re talking about one is because of House Republican extremism and chaos. What it would mean is preschoolers who rely on Head Start not going to school. It means the Department of Labor not inspecting our workplaces to make sure we aren’t being exposed to toxic chemicals. It means someone having a problem with their Social Security benefits won’t be able to get anybody on the phone. Now, the good news is that there’s a swath of government workers—those deemed essential—who will continue to do their jobs, like TSA agents at airports, CPB protecting the border, and the military protecting our country. The bad news is that these essential workers are going to be doing their jobs without pay. It’s completely unacceptable and unnecessary.

Gibbs Léger: Clearly, we need a long-term solution to fund the government and prevent a shutdown. But House Republicans keep passing these short-term continuing resolutions, pushing the deadline back a few months at a time. So what are the impacts and the dangers of hopping from CR to CR like this? Because I don’t think people quite understand what the big deal is if you just keep doing a bunch of CRs.

Duke: So at its most basic level, this is no way to run a country. This isn’t how American families run their families. This isn’t how American businesses run their businesses. Agencies don’t have any idea what their budget is going to be for the year. This makes it difficult to make hiring and long-term decisions, including in our national security agencies, since they don’t know if their budgets are going to be going up or down.

Let’s keep in mind that one of the federal government’s main expenses is salaries, and they provide a cost-of-living adjustment. So they know their costs are going to go up, but they don’t know if their budget is going to go up, down, or stay the same. It also makes it so much more difficult to do all the other important legislating Congress needs to do. It crowds out work on a new farm bill, reauthorizing and improving the Federal Aviation Administration, trying to make a deal on taxes, and any other of the basic duties Congress has.

Gibbs Léger: So one of the reasons Congress is careening from one shutdown threat to the next is, as you said, because House Republicans continue to push these extreme proposals to get investments in the American people. So we expect the new deadline to fund the government to come in January. So what is that fight going to look like? Especially with this two-tiered thing we have going on?

Duke: So the reason why House Republicans—who fired Kevin McCarthy for passing a continuing resolution—were OK with Mike Johnson passing a continuing resolution is they recognize that he had very little time between his election as speaker and the government funding deadline. But I think they misdiagnosed the problem. The problem isn’t time. It’s wanting extreme budget cuts that House Democrats, Senate Democrats, the president, and most importantly, even House Republicans themselves don’t support.

Just this morning, the House tanked an appropriations bill because not all House Republicans supported it. The same thing happened last week with another appropriations bill. So I worry we’re going to head into the two-step shutdown with House Republicans not knowing what they want.

What’s frustrating about all this is just how unnecessary it is. If they just went back to the deal from last summer that had cuts, that had the sign-off from the president, from the House and Senate Democrats, from Kevin McCarthy, from Senate Republicans, we could get this thing resolved very quickly.

Gibbs Léger: That, to me, is probably the most outrageous thing—is that they literally came up with a deal, a compromise, and it just didn’t happen. I feel like MAGA Republicans are literally operating on a different plane. So I want to talk a little bit about Mike Johnson, MAGA Mike Johnson, MAGA Mike—whatever we want to call him. Obviously he’s been given, like you said, a little bit of grace because he didn’t really have a lot of time between when he became the speaker and the last shutdown deadline. But how different is his approach going to be to McCarthy’s? Do we think we’re going to see some of the same dangerous promises made to fringe members of the party that Kevin McCarthy did? Like promising to baselessly impeach President Biden, for example?

Duke: I think more of the same, and more extreme. So neither Johnson nor McCarthy has had any strategy this whole time. The main goal has been to continue funding the government without upsetting the most extreme members of the extremist House Republican caucus. We’re already seeing that Mike Johnson’s leash isn’t actually that much longer than Kevin McCarthy’s. He managed to get this CR passed without serious talk of being fired, but he actually needed Democrats’ help to get it to the floor. That’s exactly the type of move that cost Kevin McCarthy his job.

The key thing to watch over the next few months is whether he’s going to be able to get any of these appropriations bills through the House. We had one fail last week, and we had one fail this morning, because some Republicans didn’t think the cuts were deep enough while others thought they were too deep.

Now, if he can pass those 12 appropriations bills, then he can have a conversation with the president and the Senate—a conversation where he’ll get rolled, because the president and the Senate will never agree to these cuts. And as you mentioned, it’s backing down from a deal House Republicans made with everybody last summer. If he can’t get those appropriations bills passed—and I think it’s increasingly likely that he won’t be able to—I just have no idea what his next move is. So all this just remains TBD.

Gibbs Léger: That’s awesome. Like, I don’t know what else to say. What a great way to run a country. Well, we like to end these interviews on a positive note when we can. House Republicans bemoaned Bidenomics policies as reckless spending, but we’re really seeing—especially recently—just how wrong they are, and how these policies have truly begun to transform our economy. Can you talk about the promise of these policies and bust some of the Republican myth-making around them?

Duke: Sure. Let’s first start with what’s happening with the economy as a whole. This week, we learned that inflation in October wasn’t 2, wasn’t 1—it was 0 percent. Prices didn’t grow at all. That is incredible. And that’s great news for wages. In fact, inflation-adjusted wages for most workers are higher than they were before the pandemic. They’re higher than they ever have been in history. In fact, they’ve grown so quickly that it’s like the pandemic and recession never happened at all.

And when it comes to investments, let’s start with the tax base, which is where a lot of the complaints from MAGA Republicans come from. In particular, House Republicans have targeted the investments in the IRS that President Biden made as part of the Inflation Reduction Act. It’s already been an enormous success for taxpayers. Last filing season, the agency answered 2 million more phone calls, cut average phone wait times from 27 minutes to four minutes, served 100,000 more taxpayers in person, and more.

This is an enormous deal for the vast majority of Americans and small businesses who pay their legal taxes but have struggled to get the most basic levels of customer service from the IRS. And at the same time, the investment is helping address the enormous problem of millionaires and large corporations cheating on their taxes. Another area that House Republicans have really focused on is the clean energy tax credits that were part of the Inflation Reduction Act.

These tax credits will help us make the transition to clean energy while saving consumers money on their cars, homes, and more. But it’s also good jobs and regional development strategy. New data released today shows that energy communities—that is, communities that host coal, oil, and gas infrastructure—have 20 percent of the U.S. population, but they’ve managed to attract more than a third of clean energy investments since the Inflation Reduction Act. So these investments are cutting costs, creating good jobs, and helping regional economies. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

Gibbs Léger: I would say so—especially that last part, as something I did not know. Well, Brendan, I want to thank you so much for coming on “The Tent” today to talk us through all of this MAGA chaos in the House.

Duke: Thanks for having me on, Daniella.

[Musical transition]

Gibbs Léger: All right. Thanks so much for listening. As always, please go back and check out previous episodes. Before we go, Colin—”Bachelor.” Let’s get into it.

Seeberger: Oh, boy. So much to talk about this week.

Gibbs Léger: So much.

Seeberger: We are right on the precipice of hometowns, so the stakes are getting higher and higher every week.

Gibbs Léger: Yes, they are.

Seeberger: The relationships are seemingly getting deeper and deeper. I feel like this is really a critical point where folks are starting to be real with themselves about, where does their relationship with Joey stand? And are they ready to take that next step, right?

Gibbs Léger: Right.

Seeberger: And I think we saw a few different contestants go in a few different directions on this.

Gibbs Léger: I’d say.

Seeberger: You’ve got someone like Daisy, who was like, “I’m not just going to tell you ‘I love you and I’m madly in love’ if that’s not where I’m at.”

Gibbs Léger: I appreciated that.

Seeberger: I totally appreciated that. And then you had somebody like Maria, who was like, “You’re progressing with all these relationships with all these different people, and I don’t think I can take it anymore.” It was kind of waffling as if she was about to check out.

Gibbs Léger: It was. It was surprising, but then again, not surprising. I think as I get older and watch more and more seasons of “The Bachelor,” I have more sympathy for the women who are there for the right reasons. And even though in the past I would say, “You know what you signed up for. You know the deal is that this dude dates 20 other women, and that at some point it’s going to come down between two people.”

But I felt empathy. Because I’m like, if her feelings are that strong for Joey, yeah, she’s going to be hurt when Jen runs off and kisses him on a group date. Right? Like, I understood the perspective for the first time. Instead of rolling my eyes and saying, “You know what you signed up for,” I was like, “Aw, Maria.”

Seeberger: I mean, look, I’m not a Maria hater.

Gibbs Léger: I don’t know. It kind of sounds like you are, Colin. I don’t know.

Seeberger: I am certainly not. While she has faced some withering criticism from folks throughout the season, I have not been a Maria hater. But it did make me gut check, like, how in this are you, really?

Gibbs Léger: That’s fair.

Seeberger: One thing I think we also have to talk about from this week’s episode is—and this doesn’t really have to do with “The Bachelor,” but it’s where they were shooting. Is it Lake Jasper where they were in Canada?

Gibbs Léger: Yeah, I think so. Yeah.

Seeberger: In Alberta? Stunningly beautiful.

Gibbs Léger: Stunning.

Seeberger: I was like, how do we take “The Tent” on the road—

Gibbs Léger: Exactly.

Seeberger: —and go film an episode at Lake Jasper?

Gibbs Léger: It was so beautiful. Whatever the production budget was for this season of “The Bachelor,” they are killing it right now.

Seeberger: Yeah.

Gibbs Léger: These beautiful vistas, I think we saw some bears—it was really, really, really gorgeous. Were you surprised by who stayed and who went home?

Seeberger: I was not terribly surprised, although I did think that he was going to bring Kelsey T. over Maria, especially with the last-minute freakout. But it certainly was clear to me that he had a connection with Maria. I just thought that Kelsey T. was a little bit more clear-headed in where she was with her relationship and where she thinks that it could have gone.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah, I knew he was going to keep Maria.

Seeberger: Yeah.

Gibbs Léger: Obviously she is his No. 1. He cannot hide that from us viewers.

Seeberger: Yeah.

Gibbs Léger: But I thought he would have picked Kelsey T. to stay, maybe over the person whose name I’m blanking on with the long, flowy hair.

Seeberger: Kelsey A.?

Gibbs Léger: Kelsey A.

Seeberger: Yeah, Kelsey A.

Gibbs Léger: I mean, that’s the thing though. He had really strong connections with all these women. I would say Jane the least.

Seeberger: Yeah, yeah.

Gibbs Léger: But I love Rachel. I love that she’s—

Seeberger: Love Rachel.

Gibbs Léger: She’s so wonderful. And this will be a test to see if our deputy general counsel listens to “The Tent.” Because I think she looks like Rosina.

Seeberger: Tune in, folks. We’ll have to go ask.

Gibbs Léger: Exactly. We’ll find out. But anyway, I’m so excited for hometowns. I’m excited for Maria’s dad. Let’s be clear: He is going to be the character next week.

Seeberger: I mean, I feel like the relatives are the true stars of the season. And I have no doubt that we will be talking about Maria’s dad during “After the Final Rose”—or sorry, “The Women Tell All”—wherever she ends up in the finals and whatnot. So I think it will not be the last that we have seen or heard from him.

Gibbs Léger: I agree. I’m loving this season. So thank you, “Bachelor” people, for again giving us “The Bachelor” we all deserve. And Joey—

Seeberger: Love him.

Gibbs Léger: Love him. All right, that’s all for us. Y’all take care of yourself, and we will talk to you next week. “The Tent” is a podcast from the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It’s hosted by me, Danielle Gibbs Léger, and co-hosted by Colin Seeberger. Erin Phillips is our lead producer, Kelly McCoy is our supervising producer, Mishka Espey is our booking producer, and Muggs Leone is our digital producer. You can find us on Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts.

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.


Daniella Gibbs Léger

Executive Vice President, Communications and Strategy


Colin Seeberger

Senior Adviser, Communications

Kelly McCoy

Senior Director of Broadcast Communications

Erin Phillips

Broadcast Media Manager

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Senior Manager, Media Relations

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Executive Assistant



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