One of the cornerstone promises made by president-elect Donald Trump during the campaign was the return of American jobs. Trump pitched his hardline stance on immigration to audiences of working class Americans with the notion that undocumented workers are taking jobs that should be filled by U.S. citizens.
The key to understanding Donald Trump, as former MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan observed recently, is to pay attention to what he does, not what he says. Ratigan said,
Donald Trump knows that words are simply useful to create feelings. So the mistake that people make is that they hear Donald Trump use words, and they think that those words are supposed to be assigned to facts, or outcomes, or intentions.
So Trump talked of jobs, and visions of $30 an hour manufacturing positions danced in his supporters’ heads. Meanwhile, while Trump used words to make promises, others were looking into what he was doing.
Last August The Washington Post noted that the vast majority of consumer products carrying Trump’s name are manufactured in other countries. And CNN reported on the fact that Trump has a long history of hiring foreign “guest workers” to staff his various enterprises. According to the CNN report Trump’s businesses have received approval to bring in over 1,200 foreign workers over the past 15 years.
Despite his campaign rhetoric about jobs, nothing has changed with Trump and his family when it comes to hiring for his companies. On December 6, The Palm Beach Post reported that Trump was granted Department of Labor permission to bring in 64 foreign workers through the H-2B work visa program to staff his Mar-a-Lago resort. Last year he was allowed to hire 69 workers from outside the country for the business.
Now comes the latest round of H-2B hiring for the Trump family. On December 2 Trump Vineyard Estates, LLC, a Virginia winery started by the president-elect and now owned by his son Eric, filed a request with the Department of Labor asking for permission to hire six full-time seasonal foreign workers to prune grape vines.
In the past Trump has complained that he needs to hire workers through the H-2B program because it is hard to find Americans who are willing to do the work he needs done. The suggestion is that Americans don’t want to do tedious, physically demanding jobs. But the real explanation may lie with the pay Trump and other employers like him offer for doing those jobs.
In the case of the Mar-a-Lago workers, The Palm Beach Post says Trump is offering some of them less pay than he offered last year. And others are in line for a raise of about one percent. That compares to a national average for annual pay raises of about 2.5 percent.
The winery workers will receive $10.72 an hour, working daily from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and 7 a.m. until noon on Saturdays. They will receive a 30-minute unpaid lunch break daily.
These are the types of jobs Trump specializes in — low paid, semi-skilled positions. Remember, it was Donald Trump who argued a little over a year ago that American wages “are too high” for the country to be competitive. Any Trump supporters who truly believe the new president will create a flood of high-paid factory jobs just aren’t paying attention. Those jobs are gone, and they’re not coming back.
What Americans have to look forward to under President Trump are low-wage, manual labor jobs. And if the pay doesn’t suit, no matter. There are always foreign workers available. Trump told his supporters that immigrants were stealing their jobs. He just didn’t tell them he was helping those immigrants do so.