The president was tweeting about his factory again, and Don Zering was tired of it.
“Rexnord of Indiana made a deal during the Obama Administration to move to Mexico,” President Trump wrote Sunday evening. “Fired their employees. Tax product big that's sold in U.S.”
Rexnord of Indiana made a deal during the Obama Administration to move to Mexico. Fired their employees. Tax product big that's sold in U.S.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2017
Zering, the leader of the United Steelworkers unit at Rexnord, said Trump got it half right: The ball bearing manufacturer was laying off its 300 workers in Indianapolis and relocating to Monterrey, Mexico. The company announced those plans in October.
But Zering took issue with Trump’s pointed finger. “It’s just a bunch of bulls---,” he said Monday. “All he’s doing is blaming it on Obama. Where was Trump at in the last four or so months when we really needed him?”
Back in December, Trump slammed Rexnord on Twitter over its outsourcing plans. “Rexnord of Indiana is moving to Mexico and rather viciously firing all of its 300 workers,” he wrote. “This is happening all over our country. No more!”
That was the last they heard from him.
“He never did anything about it,” said Zering, who voted for Hillary Clinton. “He didn’t try to stop it.”
Chuck Jones, president of the United Steelworkers branch in Indianapolis, met in February with Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, Pence’s former deputy. Holcomb's team looked into it, he said, and later told him nobody could stop the company from packing up and leaving. (Neither the Trump administration nor Holcomb’s office responded to interview requests.)
By Monday, about a third of the 60-year-old plant 's 300 employees had already lost their jobs. Gone were the assembly lines and half the machines. The workers who remained used skeleton equipment to kept making ball bearings. Their last day is June 26.
The company unveiled its plans to move in October 2016, about three weeks before Trump won the election. The decision, Rexnord said in a letter to the local union, would help it “operate in a more cost-effective manner.”
The workers in Indianapolis earn about $25 an hour, Jones said, while their counterparts in Mexico would be paid about $3 an hour.
Brett Voorhies, president of Indiana’s AFL-CIO chapter, questioned Trump’s threat on Sunday to raise taxes on Rexnord imports. Would such a punishment also apply to Carrier, the Indianapolis furnace-maker Trump pledged to save? (The AFL-CIO endorsed Clinton.)
Trump reached a deal in December with Carrier’s leadership — United Technologies chief executive Greg Hayes — to keep about 800 jobs slated for Mexico on American soil in exchange for $7 million in state tax credits. About 550 production jobs, however, are still getting shuttled south of the border. Those layoffs start in August.
“I don’t see anything that he can possibly do at this point,” Voorhies said, “other than pump his chest out.”
Mike Millsap, a United Steelworkers representative who oversees workers in Indiana and Illinois, said Rexnord’s move marks a broken promise.
“Under his administration, Trump said, no more plants were going to Mexico,” Millsap said. “But people are losing their jobs as we speak. Rexnord’s going under his watch. Carrier, too.”
Five months after Trump first bashed Rexnord, it’s unclear what triggered him to tweet again. CNN’s Brian Stelter suggested the president might have caught an NBC Nightly News segment on Rexnord’s imminent move:
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) May 7, 2017