UE General President Peter Knowlton and Local 506 Executive Board Member at Large Matt McCracken spoke at a press conference this morning opposing the continued offshoring of jobs by General Electric and other companies.
A particular focus of the press conference was offshoring by companies like GE that receive federal contracts. According to a recent report by Good Jobs Nation, General Electric rates #1 in offshoring jobs while receiving federal contract awards. GE has taken close to two billion dollars in federal money, while destroying 8,700 jobs through offshoring.
McCracken spoke about how when he started working at GE in Erie, there were over 15,000 jobs at the plant, “good livable wage jobs, that gave your family some hope of a better future.” He noted that since then, GE has moved profitable division after profitable division out of the plant. “All those jobs were moved away by big business for an extra nickel in profit, all aided and abetted by politicians like Donald Trump.”
McCracken continued by describing the current round of decision bargaining over GE’s latest transfer of work as an effort to break the union. But, he said, “this union won’t break!”
President Knowlton denounced the fact that while “GE has been awarded billions of dollars in federal contracts, it continues to pursue a strategy of destroying unions and driving down wages to improve profits and shareholder value.” He suggested that if President Trump were serious about following through on his commitment to manufacturing, “he needs to condition federal contracts on the unfettered freedom to organize and join a union, to enable workers to secure better pay for themselves, their families, and their community.”
Knowlton said that if President Trump were truly committed to working people, he would support a NAFTA renegotiation which encourages workers to organize and raises the standards of our communities throughout the continent. With that kind of NAFTA, corporations would have less ability to pit us and our communities against one another for the lowest wages.
Creating Jobs and Living Wages
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) told the press conference that “At a time of massive wealth and income inequality, we need to rally working people across this country to demand a government that listens to the 99% and not just the donor class and the 1%.” He proposed that, in addition to ending offshoring, we need to go further and “create an economy and a government that creates jobs and living wages.”
Sanders then outlined several proposals to do so, all of them in line with UE Policy:
- Increase the federal minimum wage to $15/hour;
- Invest in rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, creating 15 million good-paying jobs in the process;
- Make college tuition free, so that students can attend college regardless of their parents’ income;
- Decisively reject Republican bills which would throw tens of millions of Americans off of health insurance, and instead implement a single-payer, Medicare-for-all health care system which would guarantee health care to every resident of our country.
Other speakers at the press conference included CWA President Chris Shelton, Lori Wallach from Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, and several leaders of United Steelworkers Local 1999 in Indianapolis, whose members were famously promised by then-candidate Trump that he would save their jobs.
Video of the press conference is available on Good Jobs Nation’s Facebook page
Good Jobs Nation is calling on working people to sign this petition to urge President Trump to “pick up the pen” and stop corporations with lucrative federal contracts like General Electric from offshoring jobs with an executive order.