OPED: Mr. President, help keep our jobs
President Donald Trump has been traveling around the Midwest recently, bragging about our nation’s “booming” economy. For me and more than 200 of my coworkers at the Honeywell Aerospace plant in South Bend, Ind., the economy is far from booming.
Honeywell recently announced that it will be sending some of the work we do here, and our jobs, to Turkey.
We build brake systems for F-35 fighter jets flown by our men and women in uniform. We work hard to ensure that our military has the tools it needs to protect our nation. However, the company we work for doesn’t value what we do.
Besides shipping our jobs to Turkey, Honeywell also told us that they’ll be cutting off health care benefits for 4,700 retirees who spent their lives building military and aerospace components that have helped keep America safe for generations.
Offshoring our jobs is indefensible for a company like Honeywell that rakes in profits — $1.7 billion in 2017 — through lucrative contracts with the federal government, paid for with taxpayer dollars. And with Trump’s tax law, the company is going to be even more profitable.
Already, Honeywell’s CEO, Darius Adamczyk, made almost $17 million last year, 333 times more than the company’s average worker.
The truth is that Trump could save our jobs and help our retirees with the stroke of a pen. He could demand that companies like Honeywell, that do business with the federal government, must play by the rules and treat their workers fairly. That’s the way it’s worked since the days when Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson or Barack Obama were president.
Instead, Honeywell has been awarded $3.4 billion in federal contracts since Trump took office. In exchange, it’s already sent 545 of our jobs overseas — Honeywell ranks among the top 10 for federal contractors that offshore American jobs.
Honeywell isn’t alone, either. As a new report from Good Jobs Nation shows, major federal contractors such as United Technologies, Boeing and General Motors have sent more than 13,000 jobs overseas since Trump took office. Federal contractors are now offshoring jobs three times faster than under President Obama — at the highest rate since the Great Recession.
On the campaign trail, Trump promised to stop corporate offshoring and “bring the jobs back” from China and Mexico. At a rally, just down the street from South Bend a few months ago, he repeated one of his favorite slogans: “We love our workers.”
Now, more than ever, we need him to show us the love. We need him to stand up to Honeywell and demand that it keep us working. And if he won’t, we need new leadership.
Together, with many other offshored workers, elected officials and political candidates, I’m joining the Good Jobs Nation 2018 “Promises Broken Midwest Pickup Truck Tour” to keep the pressure on Trump. Ahead of the 2018 elections, the tour will hold rallies and town halls throughout the Midwest — the states hit hardest by job losses under Trump.
Right now, President Trump is campaigning across the country using the slogan “Promises Made, Promises Kept” to hold on to the working-class voters who helped elect him. If he doesn’t stop companies like Honeywell from sending our jobs overseas, his slogan should be “Promises Broken.”
— John Suher is president of United Auto Workers Local 9, which represents Honeywell workers at the South Bend plant. This column was written for the Progressive Media Project, which is run by The Progressive magazine, and distributed by Tribune News Service.