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Trump Ends Manufacturing Council; Members Resign

Candace Roulo
By Candace Roulo Managing Editor, SME Media

As of Wednesday, Aug. 16, the American Manufacturing Council is no longer active: President Donald J. Trump disbanded the Council and the Strategic and Policy Forum on the same day members of the Council had a conference call to discuss what to do in the aftermath of his remarks about the violence that erupted in Charlottesville, VA., during a “unite the right” rally last weekend.

The Strategic and Policy Forum was established in December 2016 when Trump was president-elect, and the Manufacturing Council was established a month later when Trump announced an initiative to boost manufacturing jobs.

Trump decided to end the American Manufacturing Council after seven CEOs resigned. The resignations stemmed from comments Trump made after a protest by white nationalists in Charlottesville resulted in the death of a counter protester. “I think there’s blame on both sides” Trump said at an Aug. 15 press conference, the third time he had spoken about Charlottesville.

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"Make America great again" was a central theme of Donald J. Trump's recent campaign for the nation's highest office.

The seven Manufacturing Council members who resigned are as follows: Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank and Intel CEO Brian Krzanich resigned on Monday. On Tuesday, Scott Paul, the president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka quit. On Wednesday morning, 3M CEO Inge Thulin and Campbell Soup Co. CEO Denise Morrison resigned.

Paul posted this comment on Twitter: “I’m resigning from the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative because it’s the right thing for me to do.”

According to the New York Times article “Inside the C.E.O. Rebellion Against Trump’s Advisory Councils,” a dozen of the country’s influential CEOs on Wednesday morning joined a conference call and, after some debate, a consensus emerged that the Strategic and Policy Forum would be disbanded, which would deliver a blow to the president.

That same morning, Trump wrote on Twitter, “Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both.”

According to the Boston Business Journal article “GE’s Immelt: I quit Trump Council before president disbanded it,” Jeff Immelt, GE chairman, said he decided to leave the president’s Manufacturing Council before Trump tweeted that he was ending the forum and council.

Wednesday afternoon, GE tweeted the following statement from Immelt: “The president’s statements yesterday were deeply troubling. There would be no GE without people of all races, religions, genders, and sexual orientations. GE has no tolerance for hate, bigotry, racism, and the white supremacist extremism that the country witnessed in Charlottesville last weekend.

“I joined the president’s Committee on Manufacturing because engagement with government on economic policy is very important for GE, our employees, and partners. As a company that exports over $20 billion of American made goods to the world, I believe we are best serviced when we constructively engage with leaders in the United States and around the world. The committee I joined had the intention to foster policies that promote American manufacturing and growth. However, given the ongoing tone of the discussion, I no longer feel that this council can accomplish these goals. Therefore, I notified members of the council this morning that I could no longer serve on the president’s committee on American manufacturing.”

Also on Wednesday, Mary Barra, chairman and CEO of General Motors, wrote on Twitter: “GM is about unity and inclusion, and so am I. We must reinforce tolerance and diversity.”

She also made the following statement to GM employees concerning Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum: “The president and members of the president’s Strategic and Policy Forum have disbanded the forum. General Motors is about unity and inclusion and so am I. Recent events, particularly those in Charlottesville, and its aftermath, require that we come together as a county and reinforce values and ideal that unite us—tolerance, inclusion, and diversity—and speak against those which divide us—racism, bigotry, and any politics based on ethnicity.”

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