Washington — President Donald Trump said Thursday that General Motors Co. CEO Mary Barra's decision to idle five plants, lay off 6,000 salaried employees and imperil the jobs of 3,300 hourly workers was "nasty." 

“I don’t like what she did, it was nasty,” Trump said in an interview on Fox News.

“To tell me a couple of weeks before Christmas that she’s going to close in Ohio and Michigan, not acceptable to me,” Trump continued. “General Motors is not going to be treated well.”

Trump is furious at GM for moving to cease production next year at Lordstown, at its Detroit-Hamtramck and Warren Transmission plants in Michigan, at Oshawa Assembly in Ontario and at Baltimore Operations in Maryland. Work will stop next year at predetermined dates, but plants will not officially close. The future of those facilities will be determined during 2019 negotiations with the United Auto Workers union.

The company is planning to lay off nearly 6,000 salaried workers next year after a buyout program last month only had 2,250 takers, according to a memo sent to employees by CEO Mary Barra and obtained by The Detroit News. The salaried buyouts and the layoffs together will affect 8,000 North American employees and a number of global executives, none of whom are part of the senior leadership team.

In response to the president's attack Thursday, GM responded with a statement: "As we previously stated, our focus remains on our employees currently working at our impacted plants in Maryland, Michigan and Ohio.

"Our announcement was timed to enable interested employees job opportunities that are available at other GM plants beginning in early 2019," the company said.

Barra defended the decisions after meetings on Capitol Hill last week with lawmakers from Michigan, Ohio and Maryland. She said the moves were a response to market conditions that have resulted of a shifting U.S. consumer preferences that have made sedans tough to sell. 

"We are in an industry that is transforming faster than I've ever seen in my 38 year career," she said after meeting with Ohio U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman. "What we are trying to is make sure that General Motors is strong and that we're in a leadership position with technologies like electrification and autonomous vehicles and connectivity, because that's what customers want. That's where industry is going."

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Twitter: @Keith_Laing

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