President Barack Obama looks at a copy of the Blade while sitting in Rick's City Diner in Toledo with Daniel Schlieman, back left, Heather Finrock, and James Fayson, right.
President Barack Obama surprised patrons at Rick’s City Diner in West Toledo earlier today, where he sat down with three auto workers for a late breakfast.
The auto workers, are all members of the UAW, are Heather Finfrock, Daniel Schlieman, and James Fayson.
Mr. Fayson, a production operator assembler at Chrysler Group LLC’s Toledo Assembly complex, appeared in a video directed for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. The Toledo resident, 37, who had spent 15 years working at the Jeep plant, earned the nickname “James the Jeep Worker” for his appearance in the video.
In 2011 a film crew followed Mr. Fayson for several hours, documenting his daily routine outside work and interviewing him about his automotive career, as well as his support for the government-backed turnaround of Chrysler and General Motors Co.
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In the video, Mr. Fayson, a member of UAW Local 12, recalled how the federal bailout allowed him to return to work in 2010 after he was laid off from Chrysler in 2009.
Mr. Fayson’s story of being laid off and returning to his job after the bailout was touted by state and national Democratic officials, including U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), as an example in defense of the auto bailout.
The President arrived at about 11:10 a.m. after traveling from the Hilton Hotel in South Toledo where he spent the night. They drove through town on Glendale Avenue, the Anthony Wayne Trail, and then jumped on I-75, eventually arriving at the diner.
Moments after members of the press pool entered the diner through the front door, the President came inside from the back near the kitchen. He received applause from the 25 or so diners in the small restaurant.
Mr. Obama told the diners to pretend the reporters who were trailing him weren’t there.
“Ignore these people,” he said.
Mr. Fayson had a copy of the The Blade with him. The President picked it up, looked at the front page, and remarked on a story. He also said that he should autograph it.
“So how are things going at the plant?” Mr. Obama asked, his elbows on the table and arms crossed.
“I’m very excited,” Mr. Fayson replied.
Ms. Finfrock is a safety trainer at the General Motors Powertrain plant in Toledo and a member of the UAW Local 14. According to the Obama campaign, her role as an alternate committee person for the unit prevented her from being laid off when GM filed for bankruptcy.
Mr. Schlieman has worked for the last six years at the Chrysler Toledo machining plant in Perrysburg Township. He is a member of the UAW Local 1435.
People inside the restaurant included former Toledo Mayor Jack Ford and former Toledo-Lucas County Plan Commission Director Calvin Lawshe.