DETROIT (Reuters) – General Motors Co said on Thursday the fate of its Lordstown, Ohio, car assembly plant, which Tesla Inc Chief Executive Elon Musk has suggested he might buy, is a matter to be settled with the plant’s union next year.

FILE PHOTO: A view of the entrance to the West Plant at the General Motors Lordstown Complex, assembly plant in Warren, Ohio, U.S., November 26, 2018. REUTERS/Alan Freed/File Photo

“GM has said the plant is unallocated and the next steps are a matter of UAW-GM negotiations,” GM spokesman Patrick Morrissey said.

GM, along with Ford Motor Co and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, have labor agreements with the United Auto Workers union that expire next fall. The union represents workers at GM’s Ohio plant.

Last month, GM said it would end production at five plants in North America, including four in the United States, and eliminate up to 15,000 jobs.

The announcement drew the ire of U.S. President Donald Trump. Ohio is a battleground state that Trump won in the 2016 election and the president said during a visit to nearby Youngstown, Ohio, in July 2017, that jobs were coming back to the region and told local residents, “Don’t move. Don’t sell your house.”

After GM’s restructuring announcement, Trump threatened to kill a federal tax credit program for electric vehicles. Tesla and GM have lobbied Congress for months to lift the cap on electric vehicles or make other changes.

Musk in a recent interview on CBS news show “60 Minutes” said, “It’s possible we would be interested. If they were going to sell a plant or not use it that we would take it over” when asked about possibly buying one of the GM plants.

On Monday, outgoing Ohio Governor John Kasich tweeted at Musk, “Hey @ElonMusk. Call me. There are no better workers than Ohio workers. And Lordstown is ready for you.” Musk responded on Thursday, “Thanks, will consider next year.”

UAW officials at the Lordstown plant could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday.

In 2010, Tesla bought its plant in Fremont, California, which was previously owned by GM and Toyota Motor Corp. Tesla is also building a plant in China.

GM has said it plans to build a fleet of electric vehicles that would compete with Tesla.

Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Matthew Lewis



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