President Donald Trump met with union leaders and workers Monday afternoon and promised them “we’re going to put a lot of people back to work” just hours after he signed an executive order terminating U.S. participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
The 45th president’s meeting with the union chiefs came a few hours after he met with leaders from auto-manufacturing companies and other major corporations. Indicating that he had every intention of fulfilling his sweeping campaign promises to put “America first” in trade and in protecting its workers’ interests, Trump spoke of the country’s bright future on his first official business day in office.
“So we’re going to put a lot of people back to work. We’re going to use commonsense and we’re going to do it the way it’s supposed to be done.”
“We just officially terminated TPP. And I just signed a document — a really powerful document — and we’re going to have trade, but we’re going to have one-on-one,” Trump told the union leaders. “Not one of these deals where you can’t get out of them and it’s a disaster.”
Attendees of the meeting included Mark Coles of the Ironworkers, Local 5; Joseph Sellers of the Sheet Metal Workers’ Union; and Doug McCarron and Thomas Flynn of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, according to details provided by the White House Press Office.
Promising that the U.S. will still have “plenty of trade,” the president reaffirmed his belief — and the beliefs of those attending the meeting — that TPP “wasn’t the right way” to go about revitalizing American manufacturing and putting Americans back to work.
“So we’re going to put a lot of people back to work. We’re going to use common sense and we’re going to do it the way it’s supposed to be done,” Trump said. “We’re going to stop the ridiculous trade deals that are taking everybody out of our country and taking companies out of our country. And it’s going to be reversed.”
Trump expressed boundless optimism for the future, saying that it won’t take long before the union leaders will witness “a lot of companies come back to our country.”
“Companies that left are going to come back to our country and they’re going to hire a lot of people,” Trump said, adding that major company leaders are “very, very excited about what we’re doing.”
Saying that he did not blame former President Barack Obama solely for allowing these disastrous trade deals to wreak havoc on the nation, the new president said he blames “many long years beyond Obama” for the legacy of terrible trade deals.
“It’s inconceivable to me that this was allowed to happen in the first place,” Trump said. “This has been going on for decades. And this is a trend that we are going to stop cold. And we started today which is my first official day for signing major things — although I actually started the hour I got here. But this is the day that we wanted to sign some of the legislation having to do with you folks.”
Following Trump’s remarks, McCarron thanked the president for using part of his inaugural address Friday to stand up for the working class.
“That address Friday was great … It hit home for the people who have been hurting,” McCarron said. “The working-class people had to hear something like this … That was a great moment for working men and women.”