Trump promotes USMCA at Warren, MI auto plant

Thursday, January 30, 2020 - 8:18pm

President Donald Trump speaks at DANA in regard to the new USMCA agreement Thursday afternoon in Warren, Michigan.

President Donald Trump speaks at DANA in regard to the new USMCA agreement Thursday afternoon in Warren, Michigan. Buy this photo
Alexis Rankin/Daily

Chants of “Four more years” and “U-S-A” filled the warehouse of Dana Incorporated, an auto parts manufacturing company located in Warren, Mich., from hundreds of employees and Trump supporters. The crowd gathered to hear President Donald Trump discuss trade in his second visit to Michigan in the last two months. 

Trump’s visit to the manufacturing plant comes a day after signing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement into law. The deal is considered a revised and updated version of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and its passing fulfills one of Trump’s biggest 2016 campaign promises. The newly signed deal was the main reason for Trump’s visit to Dana Incorporated, he said.

“The USMCA is the most fairest, balanced and beneficial trade deal we’ve ever signed into law,” Trump said in his speech to the warehouse. “We’re bringing jobs back to America, better jobs are coming back, and they’re coming back fast and they’re coming right here to Michigan.” 

A revision in the updated pact requires that 75 percent of a vehicle must be made in North America, in an effort to help the U.S. automotive industry. This is an increase from 62.5 percent in NAFTA. . The deal also contains a provision that mandates 70 percent of a vehicle’s metal and aluminum to come from a country in North America.

Trump’s visit to Dana Inc. in Warren is his first visit to the state in 2020, and the first since holding a rally in Battle Creek on Dec. 18. Warren is in Macomb County, Michigan’s third-largest county and an area Trump won in 2016.

Dana Inc. is a manufacturing company that supplies various parts for conventional, hybrid and electric-powered vehicles, including axles, transmissions, sealing and digital equipment among other products geared towards the production of electric-powered vehicles. 

The event opened with remarks from Dana Inc. CEO James Kamsickas, who talked about Dana’s long history of producing auto parts for various types of cars and U.S. military tanks. He also expressed his excitement with both the USMCA and Trump’s choice of the warehouse as his first stop after signing the deal into law yesterday. 

“Many are aware that we are a strong supporter of USMCA,” Kamsickas said. “We’re excited to host President Trump and the first official White House event following signing (USMCA) into law, and to hear from him directly on a topic that is important for our company and for our industry.” 

Trump began his speech by promoting the newly signed trade deal and continued to boast about it throughout the approximately 30-minute speech. He noted the deal’s projected ability to create approximately 80,000 auto manufacturing jobs. 

“The USMCA is an especially big win for American auto workers,” Trump said. “We’re producing jobs like we’ve never seen before. We’re producing jobs. So I just want to say that I’ve kept my promise.” 

Trump also mentioned other provisions of the deal that are aimed to create more auto industry jobs in North America, strengthen labor laws in Mexico and allow for more trade between Mexican, Canadian and American wine and cheese products. 

He wrapped up his speech by sharing why he felt the Dana Inc. warehouse was the perfect place for him to speak.  

“Dana Corp. is the perfect place to honor the immortal legacy of the American worker,” Trump said. “I just want to congratulate all of the people at Dana. You have all been outstanding and it really is the great people right now — the great people that work here — those people that can do such precision work. You’re the ones that are doing it, and you’re the ones in our country and the people who we have great respect for.”

Congressman Andy Levin, D-Bloomfield Township, posted a video to his Facebook page criticizing Trump’s policies prior to his visit, saying the policies negatively affect the working class.

“I’ve looked at this in great detail,” Levin said in the video. “I wish I were wrong, but I’m afraid to tell you that the USMCA is gonna continue the stream of U.S. jobs, middle class jobs, good paying jobs in manufacturing, down to Mexico where they’re turned into super low-wage jobs.”

Mark Arrowsmith, longtime Dana Inc. employee, spoke to The Daily after the event about his excitement for USMCA and Trump’s choice to come to Dana to talk about the new trade deal.

“I was excited about (USMCA) because I’ve been a manufacturer for over 42 years and to see (jobs) come back to Michigan and the United States, really makes me excited,” Arrowsmith said. “The biggest challenge was getting workers back in here because manufacturing was almost a lost trade where people didn't want to do it, but more people now seem like they want to get back into it. Dana has a history with building tanks, so I think this was a good setting for him to talk about the trade (deal).”

LSA freshman Nicholas Schuler, freshman chair of the University’s chapter of College Republicans, said he was happy with Trump’s decisions to leave NAFTA and visit Michigan, though he did not attend the speech.

“He is keeping in touch with the people who got him elected — they love him, he loves them,” Schuler said. “The trade deal was so important because NAFTA was an American job killer. Plain and simple. It made our labor market less competitive and a more America friendly trade agreement was needed.”

Reporter Julia Forrest can be reached at juforres@umich.edu