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Trump touts expansion of tank plant, criticizes General Motors

By Daniel Uria

March 20 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump laid out plans for expansion at the Lima Army Tank Plant in Ohio during remarks Wednesday afternoon.

Trump opened the speech by telling the crowd at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, which builds Abrams tanks and Stryker combat vehicles, that "you'd better love me, I kept this place open."

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"They said we're closing it, and I said 'no, we're not,'" Trump told the crowd.

The factory, which had 400 employees before Trump took office in 2017, is set to expand to 1,000 workers by the end of this year.

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Trump added that plans to modernize the plant and accelerate production would bring the costs of producing the tanks down by 20 percent.

Trump also called on General Motors and the United Auto Workers to accelerate negotiations to reopen the automaker's Lordstown Assembly Plant, which had been idled due to poor sales of the vehicles that were sold there.

"Get that plant open or sell it to somebody and they'll open it," Trump said. "Everybody wants it. Sell it to somebody or open it yourselves, get it going now and the UAW will help you."

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In a statement on Sunday, GM said the future of unallocated plants like the one in Lordstown would be resolved between the company and the UAW under the terms of their contract.

"We remain open to talking with all affected stakeholders, but our main focus remains on our employees and offering them jobs in our plants where we have growth opportunities," the company said.

Trump later criticized the UAW, saying that GM and union leaders were "not honest." He also said he had the support of union workers and called on union leaders to "lower your dues."

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"They could have kept General Motors," Trump said. "They could have kept [GM] in that gorgeous plant in Lordstown."

After the speech, Trump was scheduled to travel to Canton, Ohio, to meet with supporters and deliver remarks at a joint fundraising committee.

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