Leaders of labor unions castigate Moreno

GOP Senate hopeful has hurt working class, local labor officials say

ABOVE: Jim Devlin, vice president of United Auto Workers Local 1112, talks to UAW members about Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bernie Moreno’s anti-worker record during a news conference Tuesday at the union hall in Lordstown

LORDSTOWN — Local labor leaders, who are backing U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s reelection campaign, criticized Bernie Moreno, his Republican challenger, for selling the China-made Buick Envision at a dealership he owned.

“Bernie Moreno is a shady car salesman, that’s what he is,” said Jose Arroyo, vice president of the Mahoning-Trumbull AFL-CIO Labor Council and staff representative for the United Steelworkers union. “Sometimes they are what we think they are.”

Arroyo along with local United Auto Workers officials spoke against Moreno at a Tuesday news conference at the UAW Local 1112 union hall over his business dealings, specifically the sale of the Envision.

Mary Ola Semple, UAW Local 1112’s administrative assistant and a former Lordstown GM employee, said: “Moreno’s business decisions hurt Mahoning Valley workers and families, and he has proved he will not fight for us.”

Those speaking at the event say Brown, a Democrat seeking his fourth six-year term in the Senate in the Nov. 5 election, has been a longtime friend of labor and the Mahoning Valley while Moreno, who emerged from a three-man Republican primary for the party’s nomination, can’t be trusted.

The election is considered one of the most hotly contested Senate races in the nation.

Moreno has garnered criticism for selling the Buick Envision despite saying a number of times he refused to do so, according to a Spectrum News report.

Reagan McCarthy, Moreno’s campaign spokeswoman, said Tuesday that he never said he didn’t ever sell Envisions, but he “refused to take orders for more Envisions” — and sold those left in his inventory — after General Motors shut down its Lordstown assembly plant in March 2019.

“There is zero contradiction here,” she said.

The campaign provided screenshots of an April 9, 2019, email Moreno sent in response to the Buick GMC’s Cleveland / Akron district sales manager, that his dealership in Beachwood doesn’t sell Envisions. The district manager responded: “Bernie, I am aware. I send this to all dealers.”

Moreno, who owned a number of car dealerships, said in a February radio interview that he told General Motors: “I wouldn’t sell one (Buick Envision), don’t even ship them to me.”

In a September 2021 radio interview, Moreno said: “I refused to let General Motors ship me any of those cars,” and despite threats from GM, he said, “It costs me millions of dollars. I didn’t care because you either stand on principle or you stand on nothing.”

Moreno on Oct. 24, 2021, posted on X, formerly Twitter: “America must disentangle ourselves from China to stop funding their military. I refused to sell Buick models made in China. GM threatened me. I stood my ground. We have to put American jobs first.”

But Spectrum News reported Moreno’s Beachwood dealership sold the cars and advertised the remaining Envision SUVs as late as June 26, 2019.

Before GM closed the Lordstown plant in March 2019, Moreno sought to save it by offering to buy a fleet of about 150,000 Chevrolet Cruzes — the last car produced at the facility — for a ride-hailing service. GM rejected the proposal, closed the plant and sold the property to Lordstown Motors, which left the facility. The plant is now owned by Foxconn.

Moreno’s campaign said Tuesday: “Since Sherrod Brown first went to Washington, D.C., Ohio has lost nearly 200,000 manufacturing jobs, while Sherrod continues to push job-killing electric vehicle mandates and wage depressing open border policies. While Bernie led an effort to try to save thousands of jobs in Lordstown after the plant was shut down, Sherrod Brown was a cheerleader for handing the plant over to Lordstown Motors, which quickly went belly up.”

Jim Devlin, UAW Local 1112’s vice president and a former Lordstown GM worker, said the Envision “takes jobs away from Americans. We protect ourselves and buy American.”

He added about Moreno: “When you lie about things, I can’t trust him.”

Moreno’s various auto dealerships also sold numerous foreign luxury cars including Rolls-Royce, Maserati, Porsche and Aston Martin.

Darwin Cooper, UAW Local 1112 president and Lordstown GM retiree, said he was angry about Moreno settling several wage theft lawsuits after a Massachusetts jury ordered him to pay more than $400,000 to two former employees for failing to pay overtime in violation of that state’s labor laws. Moreno also faced discrimination lawsuits in Cleveland that were settled out of court.

“We don’t need a crook, we need an honest politician,” Cooper said.

But Cooper said of Moreno selling China-made cars: “He’s a car dealer. They sell whatever they can sell. I understand it. I don’t like it, but I understand it.”

Arroyo said of Moreno: “To sell Chinese cars and mistreat your employees and lie about it on the campaign, you can’t position yourself as a buy-American first, put-Ohio-workers first (candidate) when your history says different.”

Moreno’s campaign sent a statement Tuesday from 17 former employees stating: “Under Bernie’s leadership, workers were always put in the best possible positions to succeed, and our needs were always taken care of. We would work for Bernie again in a heartbeat.”

Have an interesting story? Contact David Skolnick by email at dskolnick@vindy.com. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @dskolnick.


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