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Hillary Clinton's outsourcing problem with union workers

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Hillary Clinton's outsourcing problem with union workers

On the eve of Hillary Clinton's acceptance of the Democratic presidential nomination, her relationship with labor unions --already strained by her past support for free trade deals that blue-collar workers fear threaten their jobs--is under scrutiny.

A decade-old video of her giving a speech to business executives in India about the outsourcing of jobs to South Asians and others shows Clinton saying the outsourcing was "inevitable" and should not be stopped by Congress.

In the video, Clinton, then a U.S. senator representing New York, answered questions at a February 2005 forum in New Delhi hosted by Aroon Purie, the-editor-in chief of India Today.

"Senator, if I may touch on what you just mentioned in your speech about outsourcing and over the fact of neutrality of interest, it wasn't clear to me whether you had a view on outsourcing that there should be some legislation in America to stop or restrict outsourcing which the last presidential Democratic candidate (John Kerry), as you know, took a stand on.

"What is your view on it?" Purie asks the former first lady.

"No, I don't think you can effectively restrict outsourcing. I think that there are incentives that perhaps are appropriate to try to persuade American companies without any sanctions, but you know, through both moral persuasion and then perhaps some economic incentives too at least think very hard before those decisions are made, but you know, it's an inevitability," she said.

"There is no way to legislate against reality, so I think that the outsourcing will continue. I just fault my own government for not doing more to open up new areas where America would have a competitive, comparative advantage and to do more on the education front, to do more with new technologies that we could be developing for our own use as well as for export, but I don't think there's any way to, you know, legislate against outsourcing. I think that's, you know, just a dead end."

Hillary Clinton's outsourcing problem with union workers
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Her answer was warmly received by the executives in India, which experienced an economic boom over the last two decades as American companies outsourced jobs to cheaper overseas labor in sectors ranging from textiles to telephone customer support. 

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Clinton's comments first surfaced in a 2007 Washington Post article written by current Circa Chief Content Officer John Solomon (read it here). But the video did not surface at the time. 


The Rebuilding America Now Super PAC, which supports Trump, plans to use a clip from the speech in an attack ad airing later this week that calls attention to Clinton's paid speeches.

Alex Castellanos, the strategist behind the ad, believes that the ad will expose Clinton's hypocrisy when it comes to outsourcing.

"The point of it is, of course, that she says one thing here, she says one thing there, and... [it] all seems to benefit when the Clintons do this," he said.


While all the major unions have formally endorsed Clinton, the rank-and-file workers are far more divided and dubious of her record on supporting U.S. jobs. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll in June found support in white, union households was 44 percent for both Clinton and Trump.

Traditionally, Republicans trail in the pursuit of union voters. But Trump has made a concerted effort to woo them, declaring he believes states should set minimum wage increases, and vowing during his acceptance speech to reverse free-trade agreements.


Clinton's relationship with unions has been damaged due to her voiced support for the NAFTA trade deal with Mexico and Canada that passed during her husband's presidency. She also initially sounded supportive of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal with Asia that was pressed by the Obama administration before she came out and opposed it. The State Department has been delaying releasing emails Clinton wrote as secretary of state on the issue until after the November election.

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