WASHINGTON Feb 22 President Donald Trump, who
has vowed to stop U.S. manufacturing from disappearing overseas,
is seeking job-creation advice from at least six companies that
are laying off thousands of workers as they shift production
Caterpillar Inc., United Technologies Corp.,
Dana Inc., 3M Co., Timken Co. and General
Electric Co., are offshoring work to Mexico, China, India
and other countries, according to a Reuters review of U.S. Labor
Department records. (Graphic: tmsnrt.rs/2lk9N5W)
The six firms are part of the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative,
a White House advisory council created to help Trump deliver on
his promise to increase factory employment. Trump is expected to
meet with several manufacturing executives on Thursday, but it
is not clear whether they are part of the group.
About 2,400 U.S. workers at these six companies stand to
lose their jobs within the next two years as a result of the
offshoring, according to the Labor Department's Trade Adjustment
Assistance Program, which provides retraining benefits to
workers displaced by global trade. Reuters obtained the
information through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The six companies confirmed the planned job cuts to Reuters.
It is not clear whether the other 19 companies on the council
are currently offshoring work, as the TAA program does not cover
all workers who lose their jobs due to global trade.
The lost jobs amount to a small fraction of the hundreds of
thousands of U.S. workers employed by the council's 25 corporate
members. General Electric, for example, employs 125,000 U.S.
workers, financial filings show.
On the campaign trail and in the White House, Trump has
painted globalization as a zero-sum game that has enriched
low-wage countries while leaving the United States littered with
abandoned factories and underemployed workers, and he has
threatened to tax companies that offshore U.S. jobs.
The experience of companies on Trump's jobs council,
however, shows the reality is more complex in a world where they
are serving customers across the globe. Several said they were
creating many new U.S. factory jobs even as they move work to
It's not clear whether Trump will opt for the carrot or the
stick when he meets with the manufacturing executives on
Trump plans to meet business leaders to hear their reasons
for "why they're going offshore," said a White House aide who
spoke on condition of anonymity.
Blue-collar workers who share Trump's skepticism of global
trade say they will be watching closely to see if he will try to
save their jobs.
"I don't think he's a typical politician, so there is hope
alive for middle-class families that he will do something," said
Scott Schmidt, one of 222 workers at a GE engine plant in
Waukesha, Wisconsin who are due to lose their jobs later this
year when the company shifts production to Canada.
General Electric says it is closing its Waukesha plant
because Congress has hobbled the U.S. Export-Import Bank's
ability to finance large export orders while most other
industrialized nations still offer such financial support. The
company says it laid off 225 workers last year at a Houston
factory for the same reason, shifting production to France, the
United Kingdom and Hungary.
GE says it is also closing an Ohio factory and laying off
180 workers because consumers are buying fewer of the florescent
and incandescent light bulbs they make there. What production
remains will be handled by a factory in Hungary.
OFFSHORING AND ONSHORING
U.S. manufacturers shed millions of jobs over the past
several decades as they shifted production to low-wage countries
like China, but they have added a net 900,000 jobs since 2010,
according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Multinational companies say labor costs now are only one
factor they consider when deciding where to manufacture. An auto
maker, for example, may decide to build a particular model in
the country where sales are strongest, prompting parts suppliers
to set up there as well so they can turn around orders quickly.
The offshoring picture is also more complex than official
statistics indicate as a shuttered factory in the United States
does not always mean a new factory abroad.
When auto-parts maker Dana Corp. closes a factory later this
year in Glasgow, Kentucky that is operating at 20 percent of
capacity, one of its plants in Ohio will pick up the work, along
with other factories in Mexico, India and China.
The company plans to hire nearly 700 U.S. workers over the
next three years as the company expands factories in four U.S.
states, spokesman Jeff Cole said.
That is little comfort to the 223 people in Kentucky who
will lose their jobs.
"It seems like all these CEOs and companies have turned
their backs on the American worker," said Dana employee Tim
Wells, one of those who will be laid off.
GIVING TRUMP A CHANCE
Assembled with the help of Dow Chemical Co. Chief
Executive Andrew Liveris, Trump's council is tasked with
"identifying new and creative policies that can spur U.S.
manufacturing and create factory jobs," a Dow spokeswoman said.
Dow has also offshored jobs. It laid off 178 technology
workers in Michigan last year and moved their work to India,
according to the Labor Department records. Dow confirmed the
The jobs council includes labor groups like the AFL-CIO.
"People are giving president Trump a chance to demonstrate
that he means what he said on the campaign trail and that he can
deliver. We'll see," said AFL-CIO deputy chief of staff Thea
Lee, who is on the council.
The council also includes United Technologies Corp., which
Trump criticized for planning to close an Indianapolis plant and
move the work to Mexico. The company struck a deal with the
incoming president in November to preserve roughly 700 jobs in
exchange for $7 million in tax breaks.
United Technologies says it still plans to lay off 786
workers at a separate Indiana plant and move production to
Mexico this year. The company is also moving work from a
facility in Arden Hills, Minnesota to Poland and other U.S.
locations, resulting in a loss of 72 jobs. Some of those workers
will be offered positions elsewhere, spokeswoman Bethany Sherman
The company is adding more than 1,000 new jobs in the United
States, Sherman said.
Other panel participants engaged in offshoring include:
- Caterpillar, which is laying off 712 workers in the
American South and Midwest and moving the work to China, Mexico,
Italy, France and Germany as it weathers the largest sales slump
in its history;
- 3M, which is eliminating 130 jobs in suburban Cincinnati
and moving production to Mexico;
- Timken Co., which is laying off 120 people at a
ball-bearing plant in Tennessee due to declining demand and
moving the work to other plants in the United States and abroad.
"To stay strong and grow jobs in the United States, we must
be able to compete and win where our customers need us today and
in the future," Timken spokeswoman Nicole DiSalvo said.
A Caterpillar spokesman said it was simultaneously creating
400 new manufacturing jobs elsewhere in the United States. 3M
said it had added more than 2,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs over
the last five years.
(Reporting by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and