The New York Times recently ran a front-page story about 700 United Technologies Corp. workers who are seeing their jobs shipped off to Mexico.
Along with their UTC Carrier counterparts in Indianapolis — who are losing 550 of their jobs to Mexico — this shift leaves 1,250 devastated Hoosier households in its wake.
Donald Trump made saving the Indianapolis Carrier jobs a cornerstone of his presidential campaign. Reminded of his pledge after the election, Trump cut a deal with UTC and made a lot of hay out of the 700 Indianapolis jobs that are staying — for now — even embellishing it to the point of flat-out lying.
As he stood in front of Carrier employees waiting to hear about their fate, he claimed he’d saved 1,100 jobs, which wasn’t true.
I’m the local union rep. When I called Trump out on that lie, he went berserk with a series of over-the-top Twitter attacks.
I can see why he’s a little defensive. For over a year, he’s talked the talk about saving jobs and stopping offshoring. But he doesn’t have much to show for it.
The fact of the matter is Trump could have stopped the entire UTC rip-off dead in its tracks and saved every last one of those 1,250 jobs now headed to Mexico.
As president, he has tremendous power in dealing with federal contractors, of which UTC is among the biggest, with over $6.5 billion in federal contacts last year. But instead of punishing UTC, Trump has rewarded them. Since Trump took office, UTC — Carrier’s parent company — has pulled down another 15 new contracts.
From Lyndon Johnson to Barack Obama, American presidents have directed federal contractors — as a condition of their receiving U.S. tax dollars — to change how they operate. Presidents have leaned on contractors to stop discrimination in hiring, pay a living wage, and establish sick leave programs, among other policies.
So Trump had the power from day one to stop federal contractors from shipping U.S. jobs overseas if they wanted to keep getting our tax dollars.
But he didn’t.
UTC isn’t the only bandit here. Over half of the nation’s top 50 federal contractors have shipped jobs overseas, a new Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch study has revealed. In fact, the study shows that the top 100 contractors last year shipped out almost 60,000 jobs.
Even these numbers are pretty conservative, since they cover only job losses certified under one narrow government program for workers hit by overseas trade.
Besides the 5,716 jobs UTC has sent away, General Electric off-shored 8,700; Honeywell, 5,470; Hewlett Packard, 5,331. These are hugely profitable outfits whose only motivation to move jobs away is greed.
For those tens of thousands of workers and their families that are left behind, it’s now a matter of survival.
Take a time out from all the numbers to get a picture of what we’re talking about here. I’ve seen what happens when plants close or have huge permanent layoffs.
We’re talking about often middle-aged workers in an employment environment that’s hungry for young hires. What jobs most of these men and women, black and white, will end up with next are a couple of bucks over minimum wage, if that — just a fraction of what they’d been supporting their families on.
Here’s what follows for a lot of them: First, the car gets repossessed. Then, the family falls apart, or the house gets foreclosed on. Finally, alcoholism and even suicide start picking them off.
All it takes to stop this job-bleeding from our federal contractors is an executive order. I don’t care if he signs it in Mar-a-Lago.
Chuck Jones is the president of Steelworkers Local 1999 in Indianapolis. Distributed by OtherWords.org.