Trump let down Har­ley David­son work­ers in KC

The Kansas City Star - - Opinion - BY KEVIN AMOS Spe­cial to The Star

When Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump was in Mis­souri last week, stump­ing for his Re­pub­li­can cronies, he stood be­fore ador­ing crowds and pro­claimed: “Amer­ica is boom­ing. Amer­ica is thriv­ing. Amer­ica is win­ning.” He used his fa­vorite new slo­gan: “Prom­ises made, prom­ises kept.”

To me and the 800 other work­ers in Kansas City who are be­ing sent to the un­em­ploy­ment line by Har­ley David­son, it feels more like, “Prom­ises bro­ken.”

When I started build­ing mo­tor­cy­cles at the Har­ley David­son plant al­most two decades ago, it was a dream come true. Not only was I cre­at­ing a prod­uct that rep­re­sents the essence of Amer­ica — strong, tough, gritty and beau­ti­ful — but I also was earn­ing enough to build a good fu­ture for my fam­ily.

That Amer­i­can dream came crash­ing down when Har­ley David­son an­nounced in Jan­uary that it was clos­ing our plant while open­ing a new plant in Thai­land. A few days later, Har­ley un­veiled a $696 mil­lion stock buy­back plan to fur­ther en­rich its share­hold­ers. Those of us who worked hard to build prod­ucts beloved by mil­lions of Amer­i­cans — and build up an iconic Amer­i­can com­pany — were left with noth­ing.

In the months that fol­lowed, we watched as the com­mu­nity around us was dev­as­tated by the news. Work­ers at sup­pli­ers — such as Syn­creon, which does sub-assem­bly and other work for our plant — were laid off and small busi­nesses that de­pend on our pa­tron­age were im­pacted.

For the 400 of us who are left on the plant floor, we are wracked with anx­i­ety about what will hap­pen when we clock out for the last time in May.

Older work­ers won­der if they will be turned away by man­u­fac­tur­ing em­ploy­ers. Less-skilled work­ers won­der if they will be able to find a job that pays at the same level. For me, I won­der how I will con­tinue to sup­port my wife and two chil­dren.

Six months ago, Bob Mar­tinez, in­ter­na­tional pres­i­dent of the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Ma­chin­ists and Aerospace Work­ers, sent a let­ter to Trump ask­ing him for help. We have yet to re­ceive a re­sponse.

Un­for­tu­nately, we’re not alone. More than 160,000 Amer­i­can work­ers have lost their jobs to off­shoring since Trump was elected. And off­shoring by com­pa­nies that are sup­ported by our tax­payer dol­lars is sky­rock­et­ing. Com­pa­nies like Har­ley David­son — which has re­ceived bil­lions in tax­payer sub­si­dies and earned bil­lions more through Trump’s tax bill — are get­ting rich off our tax­payer dol­lars while out­sourc­ing jobs.

The truth is that as CEO of Amer­ica, Inc., Trump could stop com­pa­nies such as Har­ley David­son from off­shoring our jobs. All he would have to do is sign an ex­ec­u­tive or­der telling cor­po­ra­tions that want to do busi­ness with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment that they can’t send Amer­i­can jobs over­seas.

In­stead, Trump is re­ward­ing these com­pa­nies with lu­cra­tive fed­eral con­tracts. In fact, a new study by Good Jobs Na­tion shows that Trump has awarded more than $52 bil­lion in fed­eral con­tracts to com­pa­nies that off­shore jobs.

That’s why I’m join­ing a grow­ing move­ment of work­ing-class peo­ple who are telling the truth about the pres­i­dent’s bro­ken prom­ises.

Trump won the White House be­cause work­ing­class vot­ers be­lieved him when he said he would be a work­ers’ cham­pion. The truth is that he’s done the op­po­site. In the nearly two years that he’s been in of­fice, he’s pur­sued poli­cies that are noth­ing less than a war on work­ers.

It’s time for Trump to keep his prom­ises to Amer­ica’s work­ing peo­ple.

Kevin Amos is pres­i­dent of the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Ma­chin­ists and Aerospace Work­ers Lo­cal Lodge 176, which rep­re­sents work­ers at the Har­ley David­son plant in Kansas City.


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