President Obama warmly praised the North Carolina subsidiary of a Canadian auto-parts company that is investing in a right-to-work state during his post-State of the Union campaign swing Wednesday.
He flew to Asheville, N.C., on Feb. 13 and spoke at Linamar Corp., a Canadian-based auto-parts factory which has opposed union organizing efforts in Canada. The company also set up its new U.S. factory in North Carolina, which is a right-to-work state where unions have little political clout.
“They could have gone anyplace in the world, [but] they saw this incredible potential in Asheville, they saw the most promise in this workforce,” Obama told Linamar’s employees during his lunchtime speech.
Obama flew to the factory to tout his proposals to boost manufacturing employment. The proposals, which he sketched in the Feb. 12 State of the Union speech, including funding for technology-development centers.
In his address, Obama also noted Linamar produces parts for Caterpillar, a company that is widely disliked by union leaders for its tough tactics when negotiating with unions. In August 2012, Caterpillar pressured its unionized workers in Joliet, Ill., to accept a freeze in pensions, wages and an increase in workers’ health-care payments.
At other events, however, Obama has lavishly praised auto unions, and slammed GOP candidates for not supporting unions.
During a press conference on Air Force One while en route to the auto plant, White House officials touted Linamar.
It is “a Canadian company that has four U.S. manufacturing facilities,” said White House official Jason Furman. “They announced that this one was opening in 2011 to make parts for Caterpillar and other trucks. They employ 160 workers. They’re hiring another 40 at the end of the year,” said Furman, a deputy director of the National Economic Council.
No reporter asked press secretary Jay Carney or Furman about Obama’s gesture of support for a non-union auto-factory opening in a right-to-work state.
In Canada, Linamar has defeated unions’ organizing campaigns by promoting a fear of unions, and hiring new employees from the families of existing employees, said John Aman, an organizer for the Canadian Auto Workers. The company’s opposition to the union is “visceral,” and “aggressive,” he said.
When told of Obama’s visit to Linamar’s North Carolina subsidiary, Aman was surprised. “It would be hard to believe Obama would promote a right-to-work environment,” he told The Daily Caller.
Neil Munro contributed reporting.