At the Carrier plant on the west side of Indianapolis, we’re coming up on a bitter anniversary. One year ago this week, President-elect Donald Trump stood before hundreds of cheering workers and declared that he had saved our jobs from moving to Mexico. It was a symbolic moment that cemented Trump’s campaign image as a working-class champion — a blue-collar billionaire who would stand with workers, not CEOs.
I have been a worker at the Rexnord plant in Indianapolis for 48 years, and president of United Steel Workers Local 1999 for more than 30. As the leader of the union representing the Carrier workers, I was part of the negotiations with the company regarding the coming layoffs when Trump intervened. Standing in front of the president-elect at Carrier during Trump’s first victory rally after the 2016 election, I realized that he was delivering a powerful message of hope not only to Carrier workers, but also to all working people in America: You finally have a president who will fight for the interests of ordinary workers, Trump seemed to say.
A year later, we feel betrayed. Carrier has announced that more than 600 workers are being laid off, with the last line scheduled to work their final shift right after the holidays.
The workers at Carrier aren’t the only ones who feel victimized by Trump’s false promises. United Technologies, Carrier’s parent company, is laying off another 700 workers right up the road from the Carrier plant in Huntington. And Rexnord, another plant in Indianapolis, just closed its doors, too. Workers at both plants hoped that Trump would come to the rescue, but he never showed up.
Beyond Indiana, workers across the country feel like they too are victims of a false Trumpian bargain, in which they were invited to trade their votes to keep their jobs. In fact, according to new research conducted by Good Jobs Nation, more than 91,000 jobs have been sent overseas since Trump was elected, the highest rate of jobs lost to outsourcing in five years.
This summer, I traveled across the Midwest, from Indianapolis to Kalamazoo to Racine, to talk with hundreds of manufacturing workers who lost their jobs to foreign countries. Many of them (some wearing “Make America Great Again” hats) agreed that Trump hasn’t lived up to his end of the deal.
“I don’t think he’s really going to come through, even though I hoped he would,” one laid-off worker told me.
“He pulled a bait-and-switch on us,” another said.
Workers know that Trump has the power to stop offshoring. His victory lap in Indianapolis said as much. As president of the United States, he can tell federal contractors like United Technologies that our tax dollars will not fund corporations that continue to offshore jobs. But Trump has failed to take action. In fact, the new report by Good Jobs Nation shows that the pace of offshoring by major federal contractors is accelerating under Trump. Since Trump moved into the White House, corporations that offshore American jobs have received $21 billion in lucrative federal contracts, meaning that the federal government is rewarding companies that send jobs overseas. The truth is that even though Trump has signed more than 100 executive orders since he took office, he has yet to sign a single one to stop offshoring by federal contractors.
Last year, after Trump announced his Carrier “victory,”I decided that I had to speak out. I said that “ Trump was lying his a— off” about saving all the Carrier jobs: We had met with Carrier hours before Trump’s speech, and they gave us the job numbers they expected to preserve, but when Trump got on stage, he gave wildly inflated numbers. Trump took to Twitter to attack me, claiming that I’m terrible at my job and that the loss of jobs in Indiana is my fault. But I stand by my words: A year after his election, Trump continues to lie about his commitment to saving jobs at Carrier or anywhere else. And workers are taking note.
Chuck Jones was formerly the president of United Steelworkers 1999.
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