Thursday, July 05, 2018

Nail factory workers in Southeast Missouri are hurt by Trump's tariffs on steel, but they still support him

Employees at a rural nail factory say they were shocked last month when 60 of their co-workers were laid off because of new steel and aluminum tariffs, but despite more looming layoffs say they still support President Trump. "Across Poplar Bluff, a struggling town of 17,000 in a remote pocket of southeast Missouri, many residents are reluctant to criticize Trump as they grapple with the prospect that their community could be one of the trade war’s first casualties," Jenny Jarvie reports for the Los Angeles Times. Trump won 79 percent of the vote in Butler County.

Managers at Mid Continent Nail Corp. in Poplar Bluff have cut back employees' hours and say they may have to lay off another 200 workers in the coming weeks. But employee Jimmy Coffer, who voted for Trump because he wanted him to bring back manufacturing jobs, told Jarvie he supports the president: "In fact, I'd like to shake his hand. He's doing a great job."

Many other interviewees echoed Coffer's sentiments, saying they still believe Trump will bring back manufacturing jobs even if they lose theirs. Diane Brogdon, 54, said Trump is "looking at the big picture, and I understand that. But he's got to stop and look at the small towns around here that are really going to get hurt."

Some locals blamed the layoffs on the company for importing steel from Mexico instead of buying American. Others were hesitant to criticize Trump's policies, worried they'd be harassed on social media, and some worried that the news media was only looking to score points at the president's expense. One barber-shop customer, who declined to give his name to Jarvie, complained that the media "can't say anything nice about" Trump, and said "If Trump ran into a burning building to pull out children, they'd say he's hurting firefighters."

What's on the horizon for Mid Continent Nail? It could relocate to Mexico where it could buy steel and export finished nails back to the U.S. without tariffs, but company officials insist they're staying in Poplar Bluff, Jarvie reports.

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