Democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) — one of the leading Democrat candidates for president in 2020 — blasted the outsourcing of American jobs by multinational corporations and challenged President Donald Trump to take action against General Motors (GM).
During a town hall with American workers and union leaders in Lordstown, Ohio, Sanders slammed GM for most recently closing their Lordstown assembly plant and immediately laying off about 1,600 American workers. This layoff in Lordstown is in addition to the roughly 4,700 American workers who have been laid off by GM in Ohio since 2017, as well as about 900 workers who have been laid off in supporting industries thus far.
In his address, Sanders called out GM for outsourcing and offshoring thousands of American jobs while increasing production in Mexico and China.
“If entities like General Motors think that they can throw workers out on the street while they’re making billions in profit and then move to Mexico and pay people their starvation wages, and then line up to get federal government contracts, well they got another guess coming,” Sanders said to a roaring round of applause. “That ain’t going to happen.”
Sanders challenged Trump to strip GM of their ability to bid for federal contracts because of their outsourcing business practices that are set to lay off an additional 8,000 American workers in supporting industries in the Lordstown area, alone:
We have to decide whether in our democracy we are going to allow a handful of billionaires … dictate trade policy in America so that profitable corporations will destroy the lives of American workers when they go abroad and pay people a buck or $2 an hour to do the work that can be done in America. [Emphasis added]
Today I say to Donald Trump, you know you’re a really tough guy and you’re prepared to shut down the federal government … well let’s see how tough you are. Tell General Motors today “No more federal contracts.” [Emphasis added]
Last month, Trump demanded GM CEO Mary Barra to reopen the Lordstown plant and halt her plans to shut down three other plants in the U.S., including Detroit-Hamtramck and Warren Transmission in Michigan and Baltimore Operations in Maryland. In response, the United Auto Workers (UAW) union has stood firmly with Trump against GM’s decision.
“Because the economy is so good, General Motors must get their Lordstown, Ohio, plant open, maybe in a different form or with a new owner, FAST!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
In response, UAW officials wrote: “Thank you, Mr. President, for fighting alongside the UAW against @GM. We will leave no stone unturned to keep the plants open!”
Husband and father of four chronicles his last shift at the Lordstown, Ohio GM plant: "It’s hard to even fathom that I’m not going to be coming back tomorrow." The forgotten man. https://t.co/2qc4vn5t8o
— John Binder 👽 (@JxhnBinder) March 9, 2019
As Breitbart News reported, GM closed the Lordstown plant after a series of concessions by the United Auto Workers (UAW). The agreement between GM executives and American union workers equated to about $120 million a year in concessions, but despite the efforts by the union to keep the plant open, Barra announced last year that the corporation would idle the plant.
While GM lays off thousands of American workers this year, its production in Mexico and China is ramping up. Specifically, GM is looking to manufacture an electric Cadillac in China and continue manufacturing its Envision compact vehicle in China.
The made-in-Mexico Chevrolet Blazer will soon arrive in U.S. markets. Last year, GM became the largest automaker in Mexico as it has cut jobs in America and increased production in Mexico.
Offshoring production to Mexico has proven cheaper for GM executives because American workers earn about $30 an hour while Mexican workers earn about $3 an hour, a 90 percent cut to wages that widens the corporation’s profit margins. Meanwhile, Barra continues to earn a salary of about $22 million.
American manufacturing is vital to the U.S. economy as every one manufacturing job supports an additional 7.4 American jobs in other industries. Decades of free trade, with deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), have eliminated nearly five million manufacturing jobs from the American economy and resulted in the closure of about 50,000 manufacturing plants.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.