Obama’s Oscar-Winning ‘American Factory’ Omits His Own Role in Ohio Factory’s Closing

Obama Laugh, Point APHaraz N. Ghanbari
AP/Haraz N. Ghanbari

Former President Barack Obama played a direct role in the hardships of the workers featured in American Factory, the Oscar-winning documentary his new production company produced.

The former president and First Lady Michelle Obama are celebrating the Oscar win for their new production company, Higher Ground, which saw American Factory win Best Documentary Feature on Sunday evening.

The film follows the travails of a shuttered General Motors factory in Ohio that is re-opened by Chinese investors, who save American jobs but encounter cultural and economic clashes with American workers.

But as Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), the former mayor of nearby Dayton, Ohio, wrote last year, the movie leaves out President Obama’s own role in making life worse for the GM workers who lost their jobs.

Obama’s auto bailout, he recalled, helped force the plant’s closure and made it harder for the workers to find new jobs because his administration was dealing political favors to its favored union allies — and they were in the “wrong” union.

Turner wrote in the Wall Street Journal last September, after the film’s release:

It’s a fascinating and at times moving film. What’s interesting about it, though, is that it never once alludes to the part Mr. Obama played in diminishing the ability of Moraine’s laid off workers to transfer to other GM plants. The president’s role wasn’t indirect and isn’t a matter of dispute: His administration’s bailout deal for GM included a backroom exclusive agreement with the United Auto Workers.

A quick refresher. The Obama administration’s auto bailout highly favored the UAW and its members. The GM plant in Moraine was unionized by the IUE-CWA. So—despite being one of the top GM facilities for quality, efficiency and production in the country—it was shuttered, and its employees were put at the back of the line when requesting transfers to other GM plants. Any non-UAW employees looking to transfer were forced to start as new hires, wiping clean any wages, tenure, and benefits built up during careers at other GM plants.

“American Factory” documents the UAW’s efforts to unionize the reopened auto glass factory without any mention of the same union’s direct role in the GM plant’s closure. The Dayton community was left out in the cold—thousands of jobs lost, families devastated, longtime GM workers out on the street looking for work.

The hypocrisy of this Obama-backed film is astounding. Mr. Obama fails to acknowledge his direct role in creating the hardships the Moraine workers weathered. He had nothing whatsoever to do with the plant’s reopening—that was all the work of state and local officials and community leaders.

As Rep. Turner recalled, his retired father — who had once worked at the plant — lost his health insurance in Obama’s auto bailout.

It was only because of bipartisan efforts, assisted by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), that the plant was re-opened with Chinese help, Rep. Turner wrote.

Turner was incredulous at the film’s silence about the Obama administration’s policies. “How does a nearly two-hour film telling the story of these workers fail even to mention the direct role the co-owner of the film’s production company played in creating their hardships? Did the filmmakers think no one would remember?”

Evidently, they did — at least no one in Hollywood. And they were right.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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