Hillary Clinton discussed her strategy to “Make it in America” by supporting American manufacturers and preventing foreign countries like China from abusing global trade rules, while touring Munster Steel in Indiana. Hillary’s plan to invest $10 billion in American manufacturing companies and their workers, largely paid for by rescinding tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs abroad, is a contrast with Donald Trump’s belief that wages are too high and Senator Ted Cruz’s support for a national right-to-work law that would attack workers’ rights.
Thank you very, very much, and thanks to Eric Dean, president of International Ironworkers, and to Fred McCraw, who is the union steward for Local 473. I am really honored to be introduced by them because I do care deeply about the work that they do, the work that is done by building trades skilled workers across our country. And I’m especially pleased to be here at a business that works closely and productively with their union.
I want to thank everybody associated with Munster Steel, in particular Jeanne Robbins and Ron Robbins and Patricia Martin, who gave me a tour and explained what I was looking at and how it ends up in those bridges and buildings and everything that is built, and built to really survive and perform the functions that it is supposed to.
It’s really great to be back here in northwest Indiana. I want to thank Mayor Tom McDermott for welcoming me back to Hammond. Thank you very much, Mayor McDermott. I also want to acknowledge Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson from Gary. Thank you for being here. I know there are other elected officials – the sheriff, the county sheriff is here; the county treasurer; council members; state – other state senators. I am just really greatly honored to be here with you.
I want to say something to follow up on what Eric Dean said, because it had a profound effect on me. I was a Senator on 9/11 from New York, and so I got to know a lot of the people who were directly affected – certainly the families of the 3,000 victims, many of whom needed help; the first responders who ran toward the building when it was first – the first building that was hit, and kept running when the second building was hit; the police, the firefighters, the EMTs and others who saved countless lives by getting people out of the towers before they collapsed.
But as Eric said, at the same time that the first responders were running toward the World Trade Center, so were ironworkers and other skilled trades workers. The ironworkers in particular. I mean, there are a legion of stories of them literally getting off the worksite they were on somewhere else in New York, New York City, in New Jersey across the river, finding their way, hoping that because of their skills, they could aid in the search and rescue. Sadly, there weren’t very many people to be rescued. People either died or escaped. But the ironworkers stayed on that pile for months, first to not only aid in search and rescue and recovery, but then to begin to move the debris, the steel beams off the site to begin to clear it.
So some of the ironworkers were on that pile for many, many months. And what Eric is referring to is what became obvious within days, that being on that site, breathing that debris and that toxic air was going to cause harmful health effects. And I became aware of that from visiting with and talking to and listening to ironworkers, police officers, firefighters and others. And that’s when I began trying to help them get the health care that they need.
One of my prized personal possessions is a cross made for me out of a piece of steel from the pile by an ironworker who – with whom I was meeting in a large group to talk about what I was trying to do to make sure that their health was tended to. And he came up afterwards and said he had taken this piece of steel that had been burned, that was still showing the marks of the terrible event, and had made that cross for me. So I have a particular sense of commitment to ironworkers, really to all the building trades, because of what you do every day to build our country, but also what I saw firsthand on that terrible day of 9/11.
It’s a real honor to be in this plant, a family that has committed three generations to building this business and to carrying it on. And Ron was telling me about some of the investigations that his father came up with to make this product even more effectively fabricated, whatever it might be. So it’s a real reminder that we have in our country people who get up every single day and go to work to build America. It’s now our challenge to figure out how we’re going to keep those jobs, grow those jobs, support those businesses, support those workers, support those unions, so that we can have a renaissance in manufacturing.
I believe passionately we can do this. That is why in this campaign I have laid out specific plans for how I would bring manufacturing back to places like Hammond, how I would work with business and labor to create the conditions that would enable us to do that, because it’s not enough just to diagnose the problem. We all know we’re losing jobs. We all know that we are facing unfair competition. We all know that we’ve got forces in our own country who seem determined to undermine manufacturing for reasons that I find just absolutely absurd.
So if you’re looking at what’s happening, you can see people, and there are probably some in this plant, who are doing the same job as their parents did but less money and fewer benefits. They’re doing everything right, but maybe they can’t even find a job in their chosen profession. And it’s got to be hard to be optimistic about the future. And it’s clear that we’re giving too many Americans, particularly working Americans, a really raw deal.
So in this campaign, it’s important that people not just give speeches and get everybody riled up. You need to ask them, what are you actually going to do and how are you going to do it? Give me the specifics. Don’t just give me the rhetoric and the demagoguery. And that is why I have tried to be as specific as possible.
I’m just bewildered when I hear the Republican frontrunner, Donald Trump, actually say that wages are too high in America; that’s why he doesn’t support raising the minimum wage. And Republican governors and legislatures like yours right here in Indiana are waging a relentless assault on workers’ rights. And I know Ted Cruz has called for a national right-to-work law. Well, right-to-work is wrong for workers, and it’s wrong for America. And it’s important to stand up against these domestic efforts.
We’ve got two sets of challenges. We have challenges from our own country, from businesses and political leaders who don’t seem to understand that we still have to make it in America. We’ve got to make things and sell things around the world. And then we’ve got unfair competition coming from outside. So I recently heard that your legislature repealed the common wage. Is that right? And it was supported by the chamber of commerce, I was told. This is in total violation of Economics 101.
I mean, how do we grow the economy if people are not being paid what they deserve to be paid for the jobs they do? We are a 70 percent consumption economy. And if we don’t pay people, we don’t grow the economy. That’s not good for families. It’s not good for businesses. It’s not good for Indiana, and it’s not good for America. So we’re going to go right at this. It’s one of the reasons why I’m a strong supporter of the prevailing wage, of project labor agreements, and other ways of making sure that the people we depend on to actually build our country get paid what they should for it.
Now, I’ve been following what’s been happening in Indiana, and I’ve read about some of the very large layoffs and the jobs being moved out of Indiana, even moved out of our country. I’ve read about Carrier. And I’ve got a set of plans that will incentivize companies who treat workers like the assets they are, not costs to be cut. And it is important that we do everything possible to make any company that shifts jobs overseas pay back any tax benefits they got from the American people.
Now, Carrier in Indianapolis plans to close down operations and lay off 1400 workers. UTEC in Huntington is laying off around 700 more. And that is just six months after their parent company spent $12 billion on stock buybacks for shareholders. And I stress that point because there are a lot of folks who think they know that all of this is caused by trade agreements.
And I believe trade agreements contribute to it, but it’s also caused by quarterly capitalism, by activist shareholders, by company CEOs who don’t put their workers, their long-term success and profitability, ahead of their own bonuses and the pressures that they are facing from the analysts that evaluate their stock.
So I’m saying to CEOs who think they can make a quick buck by turning their backs on our country – the country, by the way, that made them successful in the first place – we are not going to let you take advantage of us anymore. I’m going to stand up to both CEOs at home and China abroad. We are not going to let either one of these forces affect us. So if they invest in America, we’ll stand with them. If they pay their fair share, we’ll stand with them. But if they cut and run, we’re going to pay a price.
So we need to have a policy coming from the very top in the White House where we don’t just complain, we act, and we organize to act. And that’s something that the ironworkers know a lot about, it’s something that we do by looking in the long term, and that is what this company knows a lot about.
I want to just say a few words about trade and steel. One of the biggest and most important battles is over steel. China – and other countries, but primarily China – have been dumping artificially cheap steel into our markets to gain an unfair advantage. I really appreciate the fact that Munster Steel buys domestic steel.
And I thank the Robbins family for that. In fact, they told me some of the steel they buy comes from a plant in Arkansas that I know quite a bit about because it was located there when Bill was governor of Arkansas.
So we’ve got this problem with China and other countries. And why is China doing this? Well, because demand in their own country has slowed down. But they want to keep their steel mills going because they want to keep people employed while they try to figure out what to do about their economy. Well, that’s their problem, and we shouldn’t let them dump it onto us.
And so what I am advocating is that, number one, they’re trying to solve their domestic economic problems on the backs of American workers. It’s illegal, pure and simple. Steel is crucial to our manufacturing base, crucial to our national security, and I will not let this vital industry disappear. I’m going to make the steel industry’s survival one of my top priorities. Now, I’ve gone toe to toe with China’s top leaders on some very tough issues, and as president I will go to bat for all of our trades – for our steelworkers, our ironworkers, everyone who is absolutely looking for that kind of champion.
We are going to use every tool we possibly can against China for their illegal actions. I’m going to appoint a trade prosecutor, reporting directly to me in the White House, who will look for every possible way to prevent them from continuing this behavior. And I will have the federal government join with the trades and businesses in bringing trade cases against China. We’re not going to wait for a union or a business to do it. We’re going to join forces. We’re going to do it together. We’re going to go after the Chinese.
We are also going to reject – one of the reasons why I came out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement – we’re going to reject weak automobile rules of origin in trade deals. That gives Chinese steel and other products an unfair back door to U.S. markets. And it’s important that we recognize that it can still very well be Chinese steel even if it’s in a Japanese automobile. So we’re going to trace all their steel. We’re going to have, as I said, a trade prosecutor who’s going to prosecute these cases. And we’re going to send an absolute message: You’re not going to get away with this anymore. When I was a Senator, I testified for our businesses, and at that time it was the steelworkers in New York, before the International Trade Commission against some of their behavior back about 10 years ago. So I am committed to standing up and being as strong in this as I possibly can.
So standing up for workers, standing up for home-grown businesses, especially standing up for unionized businesses that recognize the importance of a high-quality workforce like the people standing right there. Now, I think this is important for our whole country. It’s especially important here in the Midwest. Nearly one in five jobs in Indiana is in the manufacturing sector. That’s a much higher percentage than in much of the rest of the country right now. I have a plan to invest $10 billion to bring unions, workers, businesses, universities, and the government together to create new manufacturing jobs. I have what I call the Manufacturing Renaissance Tax Credit to encourage investments in communities that are hit hard by layoffs and plant closings. I want to be a good partner for cities like Hammond and Gary that are really trying to get back jobs and are making all kinds of efforts to do that.
I know, from my own experience, American workers don’t quit. And I’m not about to quit on them. We’re going to lift up manufacturing, and I’m going to go after those politicians and decision-makers, whether they’re in Indianapolis or Washington, who have a very short-term memory. They don’t understand we built this country by making things and paying the people who make them a middle class wage. The American labor movement helped to build the American middle class.
We have to bring back middle class jobs and wages. We’ve got to get families once again having a higher standard of living, feeling that they are able to look to a better future for themselves and their children. I don’t think there is a more important issue in this explanation. I’m going to bring that message to Indiana, as I brought it to Ohio, as I brought it to New York, brought it to Illinois, brought it to all the states that I have competed in, because it’s a message that I care passionately about.
So I wanted to come today and I wanted to come to a place that is really doing a great job, a great job in what you make, what you sell; a great job in working with your employees; a great job having good relationships with the Ironworkers Local. I can tell you, this is the model I want to see us have across America. And with your help, I will do everything I possibly can to make that come true. Thank you all.