US tax codes, trade agreements incentivize overseas production, must change: AFL-CIO boss

Tax code 'rewards people for taking jobs offshore,' Richard Trumka says

Bringing overseas production back to the U.S. will take major changes to the country's tax codes and trade agreements, the president of the nation's largest union group said Wednesday.

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"Right now, the tax code rewards people for taking jobs offshore," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told "Mornings with Maria." "Many of the trade agreements reward people for taking jobs offshore. It is going to have to be a combination of a number of rule changes, a number of changes in government, to be able to bring those jobs back. ... The American labor movement has advocated for that for years."

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Such a move would boost national security and the economy, Trumka said. The AFL-CIO has endorsed anti-outsourcing legislation to make multinational corporations pay the same tax rate on profits earned in other countries as the U.S. and raise taxes on profit from some companies' overseas investments.

"We only produce 48% of the things necessary for national security," Trumka said. "So we should bring those back at least and create a lot of jobs in the process."

Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, at Trump Tower in New York, January 13, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Trumka also said it was "laughable" that two Republican members of Congress sent letters to top labor groups on Tuesday requesting they ensure unions do not collect dues from unemployed members.

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"[W]e are concerned that the continuing collection of union dues from unemployed workers is imposing an additional and unnecessary hardship on these workers and their families — making it even more difficult for struggling Americans to make ends meet," wrote Reps. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., and Tim Walberg, R-MI.

"The vast majority of our members don't pay dues whenever they are laid off," Trumka said. "Look, this is a desperate attempt by two anti-union politicians."

The AFL-CIO has more than 12.5 million members in 55 unions.

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