2020-11-16 21:53:43 UTC
Company That Trump Trashed For Offshoring Jobs Is Having Workers Train
Their Own Replacements
Rexnord Corporation apparently isnt scared of a Trump tweet.
By Arthur Delaney
Brian Reed has known some of his co-workers for decades and considers them
friends, but hes been very direct with the ones getting extra pay to
train their replacements.
This place is shutting down and moving purely for corporate greed, and in
return youre just as greedy as they are, because youre chasing $4 an
hour, Reed said. In my eyes, all youre doing is helping this company
succeed when this company has failed you.
Reed has worked for Rexnord Corp. at its ball-bearing factory in
Indianapolis for 24 years. Although the company is profitable, it
announced last fall that it would be shuttering the plant, laying off 300
people and replacing them with workers in Mexico and Texas.
To get the new workers up to speed, Rexnord has flown groups of them to
Indiana to be trained by the soon-to-be-laid-off employees theyre
replacing. The company hashed out this arrangement after completing a
severance agreement with the local United Steelworkers union. The typical
hourly wage at the plant is about $25; employees who volunteer to train
can get an extra $4.
Workers have been protesting the move, which they argue is greedy because
the company is profitable and the plant is productive. President Donald
Trump criticized the company in a tweet in December, saying it was an
example of the kind of offshoring his administration would stop with new
But its unlikely that Trump could change U.S. trade policy fast enough to
have an effect on Rexnords decision, and the tweet hasnt done the trick,
either. After all, Rexnord is just one of dozens of companies laying
people off and shipping their jobs abroad in any given month, even as
Trump dubiously claims to have forced firms like General Motors and Ford
to announce new capital investment in the U.S.
To be a viable company that contributes to economic growth, we must meet
customers needs with high-quality products at competitive prices,
Rexnord said in December. We work diligently to do this while making
responsible decisions for the people and partners who depend on this
company and its long-term health.
Trump did succeed in getting one company, Carrier Corporation, to cancel
its plans to close a factory in the U.S. ? a furnace factory in
Indianapolis about a mile from Rexnords bearings plant. Many Rexnord
workers, who are represented by the same chapter of the Steelworkers Union
as the Carrier Workers, hoped that Trump would turn his attention to their
plight. Those hopes faded slightly after Trump exaggerated the number of
Carrier jobs saved and then feuded with president of the union over it.
For all Rexnord workers know, Trump has already moved on to other things.
Meanwhile, bitterness over the replacement-training effort has been
simmering since last fall. Don Zering, president of the United
Steelworkers unit at Rexnord, says the atmosphere in the factory has been
tense. About 20 people volunteered to train.
Theres a little bit of friction here between people, but were working
through it, Zering said. Its more [complaints] than I thought it would
Tim Feltner is a longtime Rexnord machinist who compared participating in
the training to crossing a picket line.
Its a sellout, he said. Im not mad at my union brothers, I just cant
Mark Elliott is one of the workers Reed says he chastised for volunteering
to train. Both men are assemblers whove worked for the company for over
two decades. Elliott said hes not fazed by the criticism, though he
thinks his colleagues should direct their anger at the company, not him.
I dont blame them for being upset, he said.
The shutdown agreement between Rexnord and the union gives employees a
weeks pay for every year theyve been with the company ? but only if they
stay until the end. In the meantime, it requires everyone to fully
cooperate with the companys phase-out of operations, including allowing
themselves to be viewed while working and answering questions about what
According to a union official, after workers complained to the media about
having to train their replacements, the company started offering extra pay
for volunteers for hands-on training.
Any associate who is involved in training opted in, and receives a
financial incentive over and above severance benefits, a Rexnord
spokeswoman said in an email, adding that the training was not part of the
formal shutdown agreement with the union.
Several workers have said they resent that they can only get their
severance if they stay until the plant closes this spring. And some said
they dont understand why Rexnord brought the replacement workers to
Indiana instead of sending people to Mexico or Texas to train them there ?
though the company is apparently planning to do that, too.
Arromoneo Baskin, 32, volunteered not only to train workers at the plant,
but to go to Monterrey, Mexico, in the coming weeks to help train workers
there for a few months. He says that if anyone has a problem with it, they
can pay his bills.
At the end of the day, its corporate greed, but what are you going to do
about it? Baskin said. You got to make the best of the opportunity that
Hes worked for Rexnord for four years as an assembler, and says he feels
bad for the older workers who might have a harder time getting new jobs
after the plant closes. Baskin is optimistic about his prospects; older
workers generally have longer spells of unemployment than younger ones.
Elliott and Reed are 52 and 45, respectively. Both men have families. Both
say they dont know what theyre going to do when their jobs end in a few
When you get into those 50s, jobs are scarce, Elliott said. A lot of
people dont want you because of your age. Its a scary situation coming
Its scary for them, and awkward for the trainees, who hail from Mexico
and Texas and will be paid less for their work.
Theyre a little nervous. Theyre in a new place, Elliott said. And
then theyre surrounded by people who dont even want to say good morning
to you or look at you in your face.
Reed says he doesnt resent the trainees, mad as he is at the company and
the workers training them.
Im sure they have families. I can see that, he said. Its just hard to
separate them from this company, because now they work for this company.