INDIANAPOLIS — Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly said Friday he’ll push President-elect Donald Trump to follow through on his campaign pledges and take action to retain American manufacturing jobs.
The senator, who is up for re-election in 2018 and could face a tight race in a state that overwhelmingly elected Trump, wants to work as a team with Trump on preventing the outsourcing of American jobs and plans to introduce legislation to that end.
Indiana has one of the nation’s most manufacturing-dependent economies, and rank-and-file workers from three Indiana plants where jobs are set to be shipped out of the country — including the Carrier Corp. factory in Indianapolis where Trump personally intervened — joined Donnelly at a news conference.
“To President-elect Trump: What makes more sense than this? That we work together — we don’t worry about Democrats or Republicans — we work together to fight for the people who stood up and voted for him, made him president,” Donnelly said.
Donnelly said his future measure will aim to draw attention to and potentially penalize companies bidding for federal contracts that export jobs or lay off American workers, as well as ask such companies to forfeit tax breaks. He also mentioned crafting federal policies that encourage companies to bring jobs back.
Administration officials have thus far given Donnelly no assurances of support on his approach, but he says he plans to “be in their ears” on a constant basis.
Lita Freeman, who has worked at the United Technologies-owned factory in Huntington for 33 years, said watching the incoming administration’s negotiations to keep 1,100 jobs at the Indianapolis plant was bittersweet, considering her 700-worker plant continued with plans to relocate to Mexico.
“I’m so happy for the people at the Carrier plant in Indianapolis,” Freeman said, “but it just makes me even more sad for us.”
Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence traveled to the Carrier factory last month to tout Trump’s role in an agreement with the company to keep 1,100 jobs from being outsourced to Mexico.
Trump later criticized the factory’s local union president on Twitter for saying Trump gave false hope to many workers since Carrier was actually reversing the outsourcing of about 800 jobs, while some 550 will still be lost.
In an earlier meeting with Pence, Indiana’s former governor, Donnelly said he was told retaining work in the U.S. was a passion for the Trump administration. A spokesman for Pence did not immediately return request for comment.
To Pence, Donnelly said he responded: “I hope so, because he’s got someone over here — this is my passion, too. So let’s do this together, let’s do this as a team.”