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Trump Meets Labor Union Heads and Promises to Build

Build, baby, build.
Image: President Donald Trump meets with Union leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., Jan. 23, 2017.
President Donald Trump meets with Union leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., Jan. 23, 2017.Saul Loeb / AFP- Getty Images

Build, baby, build.

President Donald J. Trump met with union heads Monday and double-underlined his campaign promise to drive hundreds of billions of dollars into major infrastructure investments, labor officials said.

Sean McGarvey, president of North America's Building Trades Unions, an umbrella trade organization, said on a conference call with reporters that his "impression" was "that the American citizenry and the American Treasury will be invested in building public infrastructure."

Related: Trump to Meet With Heads of Key Detroit Automakers

McGarvey said Trump also conveyed how most of the money should come from private sector investments. During his presidential campaign, Trump touted public-private partnerships as a way to rebuild America's aging infrastructure, like bridges, roads, waterways, and airports.

In what was headlined as a "listening session," the meeting also included Laborers' International Union of North America President Terry O'Sullivan, SMART sheet metal workers' union President Joseph Sellers, United Brotherhood of Carpenters President Doug McCarron; and Mark McManus, president of the United Association that represents plumbers, pipefitters, welders and others; plus several local union officials.

In a separate meeting with business leaders, also on Monday, Trump reiterated promises to punish companies who didn't return manufacturing jobs to the United States.

Unions largely backed Hillary Clinton during the election and Trump got into a Twitter spat with local steelworkers union president Chuck Jones in December over how many jobs United Technologies Corporation would save at a Carrier plant in Indiana.

Trump pronounced he had saved 1,100 Indianapolis factory jobs when the plant only planned to keep closer to 800, said Jones at the time.

Related: Why Trump Killed TPP — And Why It Matters To You

At Monday's hour-long meeting with the nation's top union brass, the group applauded Trump's announcement that he'd signed an executive order that "officially terminated" the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, according to a White House pool report.

"We are going to put a lot of people back to work," Trump said.

The TPP had been criticized by both sides of the aisle and especially by labor unions, who said it would outsource their manufacturing jobs and was soft on labor rights.

"It hit home for the people who have been hurting,” said Douglas J. McCarron, general president of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters.