On a stage set with tool kits, enormous tool boxes and an American flag constructed from crescent and socket wrenches, President Donald Trump pledged to help rebuild America with American tools and American labor.
“Today we are taking bold new steps to ‘buy American and hire American,’” he said to an overflow crowd at the headquarters of Snap-on Inc., 2801 80th St., Tuesday afternoon.
“We are using every tool we have to restore the American dream,” Trump said.
During his 21-minute address, Trump lamented the loss of American jobs to overseas companies, touted vocational schools and pledged a future with more products stamped with the words “Made in the USA.”
Trump used the occasion to roll out an executive order designed to favor American products and workers and to block cheap foreign labor from coming to the United States. He said that rolling out the executive order at Snap-on was intended to showcase the company’s historic contribution to American manufacturing.
“Throughout the years Snap-on Tools has been the center of our industrial life: They fix the cars our families depend on; they sail with the fleets that control our oceans; they fix the planes that cross our skies, and Snap-on tools have reached the heights of space with tools used by astronauts.”
Noting that his goal was to protect workers and students Trump unveiled the executive order he referred to as the “Buy and Hire American” order.
“These are the tools that will rebuild our nation,” Trump said.
The invitation-only guest list included state and local politicians, Snap-on workers, Gateway Technical College administrators and a few Gateway students.
Referring to the Snap-on workers, Trump said, “These are great people and real workers, and I love the workers. I can't think of a better place to make this announcement than right here at Snap-on.
In referring to the executive order, Trump said, “With this action we are sending a powerful signal to the world: We're going to defend our workers, protect our workers, protect our jobs and finally put America first.”
At this and several other junctures, the audience responded with huge applause.
Trump said the order “declares that ... our government aggressively promote and use American-made goods and ensure that American labor is hired to to the job.”
He said that over the years these laws have been gutted by “reckless waivers and exemptions” and said he was “directing every agency to ... maximize made-in-America materials in all federal projects.”
Trump also said the order “cracks down on foreign bidders that use dumped steel and other subsidized goods to take contracts from workers like you.”
The second part of the order, “hire American,” touches on immigration visas for foreign workers.
“Right now there is widespread abuse in our immigration system. It is allowing American workers of all backgrounds to be replaced by workers brought in from other countries to fill the same job, sometimes for less pay. American workers have long called for reforms in these visa abuses.”
Trump called for reform of H1-B visas. These, he said, “are now awarded in a totally random lottery, and that's wrong. Instead, they should be given to the most skilled and highest-paid applicants.”
“No one can compete with American workers when they are given a fair and level playing field.”
To more applause, Trump said, “The order will help protect workers and students like those of you in the audience today.”
Trump also voiced support for NASA funding, tax reform, health care reform and trade initiatives.
He blasted the North American Free Trade Agreement as a “complete and total disaster for the U.S. ... We’re going to make some very big changes or get rid of NAFTA once and for all.
“We don’t want people taking advantage of the U.S.,” he said, referring to NATO. “Everybody will be paying, and we’ll be a much happier country and a much happier world.”