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Donald Trump Bestows Pledge to America’s Workers Presidential Award to Entities That Offshore American Jobs and May Be Importing Uyghur Slave Labor Goods

By Matthew Groch and Sarah Grace Spurgin

The September 23, 2020, White House event with Ivanka Trump and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was supposed to generate good economic news for President Donald Trump by spotlighting the best of U.S. business entities and all the great things they were doing for U.S. workers.

Except, four of the nine businesses being spotlighted as winners of the inaugural Pledge to America’s Workers Presidential Awards have been certified by the U.S. Department of Labor for offshoring American jobs. Those businesses include Lockheed Martin Corporation, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Oberg Technologies LLC., and Textron Inc. And the National Retail Federation, which also received the award, represents a batch of companies that have relocated much of their production to low-wage countries and have come under attack from human rights groups sourcing good produced by Uyghur and other Muslims ethnic minorities whom the Chinese government has locked up in prison campaigns in the western Xinjiang region of China.

It is no surprise that after recent reports of over 300,000 American jobs having been lost to offshoring and trade during Trump’s presidency, the administration would want to try to distract from its actual record. So, you’d figure they would check up on the entities getting the awards.

One recipient of the award was Lockheed Martin. The firm promised it would commit $100 million in new training over five years when it signed the pledge in 2018. Despite a history of offshoring U.S. jobs (including since 2017), Lockheed Martin has received over $140 billion in federal contracts from the current administration.

Lockheed Martin was not the only award recipient who received federal contract dollars while shipping out U.S. jobs.  Textron Inc. has also received billions in federal contracts from the Trump administration while being certified as outsourcing U.S. jobs during the Trump presidency… and it still got an award!

The National Retail Federation (NRF) was also a recipient of the new award. The NRF is a trade association made up of thousands of retailers across the world, including big names such as Nike, Cisco and L.L. Bean. These three firms combine for a cool $104,508,450 in federal contracts awarded during the Trump administration (most of which went to Cisco) despite each having a history of certified job losses to trade or offshoring U.S. jobs, according to the U.S. Labor Department Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program. In fact, according to TAA data L.L Bean has offshored jobs as recently as March of this year and Trump still deemed them deserving of the Pledge to the American Worker Award.   

These three firms (and others in the NRF) have been called out by various human rights organizations for continuing to source products from the Xinjiang region of China, where the Chinese government has imprisoned Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities, forcing them to work for low wages under brutal conditions.

The U.N. estimates more than a million Muslims have been detained in these camps. Trump’s own State Department has accused Chinese officials of subjecting Muslims to torture, abuse “and trying to basically erase their culture and their religion.”

Yet, the Trump administration chose to honor the trade association representing the companies called out by name by 72 Uyghur rights groups and over 100 civil society organizations.

Since its inception, Trump’s “pledge” has seemed to be strong on PR pageantry and weak on substance. For instance, there is no accountability or even tracking about whether firms are meeting their pledges.

The selection of these entities for awards underscores that the Trump administration has not delivered on many of Trump’s pledges to American workers. For example, although in 2016 Trump promised Carrier workers in Indiana that he’d save their jobs, 1,300 of those jobs have been offshored to Mexico. And although Trump vowed to punish corporations that ship jobs overseas, his administration has lavished more than $425 billion in federal contracts on companies that are certified to have offshored jobs.

So, congratulations to the inaugural class of Trump’s Pledge to America’s Workers Presidential Awards — shining examples of how to exploit workers at home and abroad.

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