Trump’s tour of Ford plant ‘contrary’ to Whitmer’s new work rules, aide says

Donald Trump

Donald Trump attended a campaign rally in Battle Creek in December (above). The president is set to return to Michigan to tour Ford's Rawsonville plant in Ypsilanti on Thursday. (Max Elram/

LANSING – President Donald Trump's pending tour of a Ford Motor Co. plant in Ypsilanti is "contrary" to new workplace safety rules imposed by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, but her administration is nonetheless welcoming the visit.

Recent executive orders issued by Whitmer require newly reopened manufacturers to "suspend all non-essential in-person visits, including tours" to protect workers from the novel coronavirus that has so far killed 4,915 in Michigan. 

Trump is set to tour Ford's Rawsonville plant in Ypsilanti on Thursday. The factory typically assembles components but has been reconfigured amid the pandemic to produce ventilators and personal protection equipment for front-line health care workers. 

"Ford and the UAW are doing incredible work for the country, and their ingenuity will save lives," Whitmer communications director Zack Pohl told Bridge Magazine in a statement. 

"While the president's visit is contrary to the governor's order, this is an opportunity to showcase how important Michigan is to the response to COVID-19 and rebuilding our nation's economy."

Whitmer first suspended tours in a May 7 order that allowed manufacturers to reopen May 11, and she reinforced that prohibition with new workplace safety rules issued Monday in response to the pandemic. Trump’s visit to the plant was first reported Sunday by Crain’s Detroit Business.

The Democratic governor is not expected to join the tour with the Republican president, who has criticized Whitmer and referred to her as “that woman from Michigan.”

Pohl said the Whitmer administration expects "Ford and the president to comply with workplace safety requirements, including the use of masks."

Trump did not wear a mask last week while touring a medical equipment distribution center in Pennsylvania that is producing N95 masks, surgical gowns and gloves for hospitals around the country. 

White House officials reportedly defended the decision because Trump is tested daily for coronavirus.

Whitmer's workplace safety order requires businesses that she's allowed to reopen to provide face coverings to their employees. They must require workers wear those face coverings in areas they cannot consistently maintain six feet of separation from colleagues. 

In a May 1 document, Ford said face masks must be worn by anyone — employees, visitors, contractors and vendors — in all of its facilities.

The Dearborn-based automaker this week confirmed it is set to host Trump on Thursday, saying the White House requested the visit "as part of the president's tour to thank businesses producing PPE and important medical equipment."

In a statement, Ford said it is "proud to assemble more vehicles in the U.S. than any other automaker" and welcomes Thursday's visit by Trump "as part of Ford's longstanding history of hosting sitting presidents and senior government leaders."

Ford spokesperson Rachel McCleery deferred to the Whitmer administration on interpretation of the governor's executive order. But she said the automaker has "shared with the White House all of Ford’s safety protocols, including our self-assessment, thermal scanning and manufacturing playbook which outlines our policy that everyone wears (personal protection equipment)."

Whitmer's workplace safety order is enforceable by state departments, and companies that violate the rules are subject to penalties under the Michigan Occupational and Health Act. Serious violations can lead to a fine of up to $7,000, while repeat violations are punishable by a fine of up to $70,000.

A spokesperson for the Michigan Occupational Safety & Health Administration declined to discuss whether Trump’s visit could subject Ford to enforcement action. 

“At this point, I’m not going to speculate on [an] event that has yet to take place,” said Jason Moon of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. “We do expect Michigan employers to follow all health and safety standards.”

Pohl also declined to comment, saying it "wouldn't be appropriate for me to speculate on MIOSHA enforcement."

Whitmer, whose name has been floated as a possible vice presidential candidate to presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, has clashed with Trump over the federal response to the pandemic.

"The White House has not extended an invitation to the governor to attend his event in Michigan," Whitmer spokesperson Chelsea Lewis said Monday. "The governor is currently planning to volunteer at a school Thursday to deliver meals to local children and their families."

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Jim Pearson
Tue, 05/19/2020 - 11:50am

Whitmer's rules are just made up and have no real authority. They can be amended or modified by whatever means anyone wants. If it were a real law, then the President might be doing something wrong here, and would need the law modified- but these dictates from the Governor are not laws, and thus they have no force of law. It's a lawless world out there, and one wonders why Michigan is one of the few states in the nation to be embracing this lawlessness as a 'necessary' part of battling the virus.

GOP anarchy
Tue, 05/19/2020 - 12:17pm

So that's why Shirkey and Chatfield closed the capitol when threatened with mob rule. They let the mob win.

Tue, 05/19/2020 - 4:36pm

Just so we understand the rules here- when those who oppose fascists gather to protest it's to be called "mob rule" and "anarchy,", but when people put pink pussy hats on their head and scream their hatred at Trump incoherently for two minutes, that's "peaceful protesting" and "lawful." Did I understand the rules of the game correctly?

Wed, 05/20/2020 - 7:52am

Yes, put away your assault weapons and put on your pussy hat. Is your fear of women your motivation?

Kevin Grand
Tue, 05/19/2020 - 5:27pm

And here I thought it was to molly-coddle the democrats who are afraid of facing angry Michiganians fed up with Gov. Karen's antics?

Wed, 05/20/2020 - 8:00am

Is Trump taking Hydroxychloroquine for Trump Flu or for obesity? They say it works for both.

Wed, 05/20/2020 - 11:54am

Who are to say,

Tue, 05/19/2020 - 12:01pm

He's taking hydroxychloroquine contrary to his own FDA. He's a morbidly obese maverick.

25 Amendment
Wed, 05/20/2020 - 7:54am

Hydroxychloroquine may cause some people to be agitated, irritable, or display other abnormal behaviors. It may also cause some people to have suicidal thoughts and tendencies, or to become more depressed. If you or your caregiver notice any of these side effects, tell your doctor right away. Apr 1, 2020

Interesting that Pence isn't taking it... Maybe he's trying to be number one.

Wed, 05/20/2020 - 11:39am

If he were obese, hydroxycholoroquine would be a good way to go, because being obese is a risk factor. I know you are just echoing the insults that you heard from Pelosi, but try to actually use your own mind too. Also, your mama is so fat, if she jumped out of a plane she'd get stuck in the sky... I'm sure you appreciate that joke, because you obviously think calling people fat is funny.

Tue, 05/19/2020 - 12:07pm

Trump's just trying to hold a rally with a captive audience of working stiff that risks unnecessary exposure to the virus from his royal entourage. He also really wants to snub GM.

Tue, 05/19/2020 - 12:09pm

Ford and UAW took patriotic initiative to help save our country, Trump failed to invoke Defense Production Act needed to reopen our economy. Whitmer and Michigan see the president as irrelevant and useless.

Trump Flu
Wed, 05/20/2020 - 8:01am

I just hope he wears a mask so the working class are protected.

GOP Trump Party
Tue, 05/19/2020 - 12:11pm

I bet Shirkey and Chatfield will be there to welcome his royal lowass.

Tue, 05/19/2020 - 12:15pm

Whitmer's Michigan COVID19 response to Trump's national COVID19 response. There is no comparison, Whitmer is a rockstar, Trump a roadie. The roadie follows the rockstar, not the other way around. Trump can try to stalk her by coming here like he did to Clinton on the debate stage, but Whitmer won't have it. Whitmer, Michigan appreciates your hard work.

Iggy Pop
Tue, 05/19/2020 - 4:38pm

Let's instead compare a blue rubber ball to a black sock. One of those is a rockstar, and the other is a foodie. There is simply no comparison. Toadies jump on rocks, not the other way around. Those can try to block around like Blinton did on the what age, but Whitmer is our Dear Leader. Whitmer appreciates you staying at home, under house arrest, slowly getting more and more poor, because you sheep allow her and her friends to get more power and wealth. Orange man bad.

Wed, 05/20/2020 - 8:03am

Oh Todd, stop smokin the weed and start patching a dam.

Bow Wow
Wed, 05/20/2020 - 8:10am

Hey, "Iggy", I knew your dad. Don't try to have a concert in Canada because Trump closed the border, just like Castro did to Cuba. Ha Ha

"Hey Trumpy, I wanna be your dog."

Be honest, you're nasty Kid Rock, not Iggy. Ha Ha

Oh and Kiddie, no concert for you too! Herr Trump closes der border!

Betsy Ross
Tue, 05/19/2020 - 2:18pm

Well, these restrictions are arbitrary and likely designed to supply medical security theater and increase political control of the few at the expense of the many rather than render actual benefits. They don't follow the latest data and studies, just the will of progressive experts.

So... who cares?

Wed, 05/20/2020 - 8:11am

Yet judges are not stopping the governor, just sayin'.

Tue, 05/19/2020 - 3:57pm

Can anyone explain the States Testing numbers? For 5/17 the we show 9.4% positive as the State total. If you look at each of the 8 regions in the State, not a single one is over 8% positive. How can the overall percent positive be higher than all the regions? Simple math tells you the numbers do not add up. Something is wrong with the numbers they are reporting.

Wed, 05/20/2020 - 8:13am

This is the comment section of Bridge, not Craigslist for math tutors.

Rick Raisen
Tue, 05/19/2020 - 4:33pm

The Governor's Executive Order, like her other executive orders, is illegal. She rests the authority for the order on "Michigan Constitution of 1963" but does not provide any specific clause or authority that grants her the ability to do what she is doing within that document (because there is none). She further goes on to rest her authority for this executive order on the fact that "Emergency Management Act vests the governor with broad powers and duties", but the EMA of 1976 (which she is referring to) has no bearing on anything anymore because the Legislature did not extend her authority under that act. The only possible authority she has is on a very broad (and likely illegal) interpretation of the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945, which she does indeed briefly reference in the executive order.

The justification that the Governor provides for it being necessary to ban tours is that if Trump visits this plant then Michigan's health care system will promptly and totally be overwhelmed- this assertion is laughable on many levels and her executive order provides no evidence to support the conclusion. She also says (without evidence) that Trump's visit will lead to many "needless deaths". That's ironic, since her executive orders will lead to thousands of needless deaths in Michigan through delays in cancer treatments, rising suicide levels, increased drug and alcohol abuse, the ending of vaccinations for preventable illness, and preventing treatment for heart diseases.

Partisanship, pride, powerlessness, and fear will indeed dominate this debate. But the law should be above these things. And if the law isn't above these concerns, then the law is not in fact a law, and lawlessness should be replied with with more lawlessness.

Wed, 05/20/2020 - 8:15am

Sorry you wasted so much energy, but it's reasonable state action unless judged unconstitutional. I don't see any judges willing to do that.

Wed, 05/20/2020 - 2:52pm

Back when I was a kid, the government could only do those things it was given the power to do. Times have changed though. Now the government can do whatever it wants to do and call it reasonable until politically motivated judges eventually declare the action illegal, and the politician who broke the law for months has no repercussions. And it works best if the government just does whatever it wants to do without any thought about the laws or what is legal, and then just hope that out of the hundreds of illegal actions that it engages in that some of them stand at the end of the day. What a lawless and evil world we have embraced.

Kevin Grand
Tue, 05/19/2020 - 5:40pm

Please, please, please...let AG Nessel personally attempt to stop Pres. Trump from entering the plant.

It will be entertaining to see what the Secret Service does to her when she eagerly runs up to our President with legal papers in her hands.

Trump fears Women
Wed, 05/20/2020 - 8:17am

I agree. It would be fun to see her kick his morbidly obese ass, like Pelosi does regularly.

Wed, 05/20/2020 - 7:50am

Trump Virus has USA Number 1 in the world in these categories:
Most cases: +1,570,583
Most new cases: +20,289
Most deaths: +93,533
Most new deaths: +1,552

"One day — it's like a miracle — it will disappear." Signed, Very Stable Genius

Wed, 05/20/2020 - 8:50am

Nonsense article designed to be clickbait. Thought Bridge was better than this kind of tripe.

To my knowledge, neither Whitmer nor her spokespeople have made any comment about it except in response to some leading questions and possibly slanted excerpts from their responses and neither the president nor his people have bothered with this.

Shame on Bridge for turning into just another untrustworthy media outlet.

John S Porter
Wed, 05/20/2020 - 9:08am

President Trump has used his personna to promote his personal agenda, like publicy announcing that he is using Hydroxychloroquine and urging others to do so as well. He refuses to wear a mask, suggesting perhaps that it should be optional. If he is photographed at the auto plant, he should have his mask on, otherwise he is using the Michigan media event to promote a really damaging message. He should be refused entry if he isn't wearing a mask in my opinion.

I understand that our Governor doesn't want to meet him, for good reason. She should send the Attorney General and the State Police to make sure that Michigan Law is enforced on His visit. She really should be like George Wallace and stand in doorway, prohibiting entry without a mask.

Wed, 05/20/2020 - 10:47am

She really is full of herself isn't she?