Wilbur Ross, President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to run the Department of Commerce, has a long record of outsourcing American jobs, counter to Trump’s message o protecting US jobs as a candidate. Andy Sullivan reports.
(REUTERS, VNR, RESTRICTED POOL) – Donald Trump won the White House on a promise to protect American workers. But the man he picked to lead that fight –investor Wilbur Ross — has offshored thousands of US jobs.
Over a career spanning decades, Ross has earned accolades as a leveraged buyout artist in struggling industries like steel and coal, carving out a reputation as a big booster of US business. Like Trump, he says trade deals like NAFTA hurt the American economy and he’s lobbied for tariffs against countries such as China he says don’t play fair. Along the way, he’s earned a fortune that Forbes pegs at 2.5 billion dollars.
But Ross’s America First rhetoric doesn’t quite square with his track record — according to Labor Department records we’ve looked at. In one case, Ross’s International Automotive Components Group laid off 853 American workers as it shifted production to Mexico starting in 2007. His International Textile Group offshored at least 1,268 jobs going back to 2004. When Ross created a mortgage company — Homeward Residential Holdings — it sent 596 jobs to India before he sold it in 2012.
Of course this falls in line with plenty of other textile and auto companies that have offshored work, and a growing number of service sector workers who have seen their jobs relocated overseas as well…a trend Trump has insisted he will reverse.
Now Ross’s defenders say he’s also saved American jobs by turning around companies that were on the verge of collapse, but at his hearing Wednesday Ross will likely need to explain how he squares his America First line that caught Trump’s eye, with the shipping of work overseas when it benefitted his own bottom line.