Sanders, unions, and allies kick off Midwest “pickup truck tour” vs. Trump
Courtesy Good Jobs Nation

INDIANAPOLIS — Led by now-famous retired Steelworkers Local 1999 President Chuck Jones and Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind-Vt., unionists and their allies kicked off a 2-week “pickup truck tour” through the Midwest on August 21 to tell people how GOP President Donald Trump isn’t saving jobs.

And campaigners want him to do so by signing an executive order banning federal work from firms that offshore U.S. jobs overseas. They also want him to order federal contractors—such as McDonald’s restaurants on military bases—to raise the wages of their workers.

The campaign, backed by Good Jobs Nation, which the Service Employees originally sponsored, the Communications Workers and the independent Our Democracy organization that succeeded Sanders’ presidential campaign, is aimed at telling workers how Trump has failed them.

And its red-white-and-blue pickup truck is rolling through key Midwestern cities and states Trump narrowly won in 2016. He did so by amassing millions of votes from blue-collar workers and their families, winning those states, whose electoral votes in turn put the business magnate in the Oval Office.

The campaign began in Indianapolis, with the rally featuring Sanders and Jones, and moved on to an abandoned General Electric factory in Bloomington, Ind., on August 23, to Racine, Wis., on August 28, Kalamazoo, Mich., on August 30 and Dayton, Ohio, on August 31.

The truck and its riders then tour Ohio: Canton on September 1, Youngstown on September 2 and Lorain on September 3, before finishing in Erie, Pa., on Labor Day. Trump carried all four Midwestern states plus Pennsylvania.

“I’m not looking to pick another fight with Donald Trump. I did plenty of that before I recently retired as president of the local union that fought to save Carrier jobs in Indiana,” Jones wrote in an op-ed the day before his Indianapolis speech to the rally.

“But Carrier just delivered a new round of layoff notices to hundreds of workers — and President Trump could have stopped it. And that just ticks me off.”

By the end of 2017, and contrary to what Trump promised on the campaign trail and in a post-election speech at the Carrier plant, the firm and its parent company, United Technologies “will have shipped a total of 1,250 good union jobs from Indiana to Mexico,” Jones explained.

“But the problem is much bigger than just United Technologies.” He said firms continue to ship jobs overseas, wages have fallen nationwide since Trump entered the White House, and there have been 37 mass layoffs in Indiana alone. And United Technologies just picked up $500 million more in federal contracts, Jones said.

“As the CEO of the U.S. government, President Trump has the power to hold corporations accountable to workers. With the simple stroke of a pen, he can tell corporations they can’t do business with the federal government and get rich off taxpayer money unless they stop offshoring jobs and raise wages for the 20 million workers employed by federal contractors.

“Research by Good Jobs Nation and Public Citizen shows 56 percent of federal contractors, like Verizon and GE, continue to receive $200 billion in lucrative taxpayer contracts while they offshore our jobs,” he noted.

And while call center jobs were supposed to replace the factory jobs that left, telecoms are exporting call center jobs to Mexico, other Latin American nations and the Philippines, Jones noted. The Communications Workers and worker-friendly lawmakers are pushing a legislative ban on federal funds for firms that offshore call centers. But Trump, Jones says, is ignoring it.

“Now all that’s left are low-wage McDonald’s and Walmart jobs. Who can survive on $7.25?” Jones asked. “America’s working people deserve better. The truth is Trump won’t make good on his promises unless we make him do it.

“This nation was built by workers like me. We deserve better than empty promises.”

Good Jobs Nation said the pickup truck tour is designed to mobilize a “grass-roots campaign to get Trump to keep his promises.” Its hashtag to Trump: #pickupthepen. It also plans to sign new union members at rallies and online.

Besides the campaign against outsourcing and offshoring, the truck, the leaders and the participants also push fair wages for the millions of low-paid workers who toil for firms with federal contracts. President Barack Obama (D), Trump’s predecessor, issued an executive order mandating fair wages for them. Trump dumped it.

“We’ll be calling on Trump to sign a Model Employer Executive Order to make sure the federal government only does business with companies that create good union jobs in the USA, and to build support for new state legislation to stop the offshoring of call centers in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. No matter who you voted for, if you want a government that works for workers, join us,” the campaign declares.


CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

Comments

comments

MOST POPULAR