Organized labor campaigned for his opponent, but when Donald Trump won, labor leaders like AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka (above left) offered to work with him on areas of possible agreement, like renegotiating trade deals and investing in infrastructure. Trump seems to care what union leaders and union members think: In January, he invited Trumka (and later, top building trades leaders) to Trump Tower, and in April, he addressed delegates at the North America’s Building Trades Unions conference. Have Trump’s acts in office lived up to his pledge to put the American worker first?
NAFTA-style trade deals
On Day One, Trump withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Obama’s proposed NAFTA-style trade deal for Pacific Rim nations. In late April Trump said he’d withdraw the U.S. from NAFTA, but then changed course and said he’d renegotiate it. [If he’s interested, the AFL-CIO has some ideas about how to do that.] He’s also threatened to withdraw from the Korea-U.S. trade deal.
Green light for pipelines
Trump was praised by building trades union leaders Jan. 24 — for signing executive orders removing obstacles to construction of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines.
The AFL-CIO opposed Trump’s Supreme Court appointee, Neil Gorsuch, because as a judge he routinely ruled in favor of corporate interests and against workers. Trumka applauded Trump’s nominee for trade representative – Reagan-era trade negotiator (and NAFTA critic) Robert Lighthizer. But Trump’s initial nominee for labor secretary was fast food CEO Andy Puzder, a foe of minimum wage increases. As labor adviser, Trump named antiunion Heritage Foundation researcher James Sherk, who has criticized the Davis-Bacon prevailing wage, and argued in favor of “right-to-work” laws. Trump also hired Geoff Burr, a top lobbyist for anti-union Associated Builders and Contractors, to a lead role in the Labor Department. His education secretary is billionaire Betsy DeVos, a privatization advocate who never attended public schools. Trump’s cabinet as a whole is the richest in history, and not a worker-friendly bunch.
Infrastructure plan M.I.A
Trump repeatedly campaigned on a plan to spend $1 trillion upgrading America’s infrastructure. 100 days in, there’s still no proposal.
The Trump administration is proposing a massive increase in military spending during peacetime, a $4.6 billion increase for VA health care, and a $500 million increase funding for opioid prevention and treatment. But elsewhere he’s proposing huge cuts: A 20 percent ($2.5 billion) cut to the Labor Department – targeting job training, safety and health training, and Job Corps. He’s proposing to eliminate whole programs, including the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, federal funding for after-school programs, and a program that helps low-income people heat their homes. He’s also proposing to privatize air traffic control, eliminate subsidies for long-distance Amtrak service, and cut $2.4 billion out of federal transportation programs.
Corporate tax giveaway
Few details are out yet, but White House aides are drafting a tax plan that slashes the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent. That would massively benefit owners of corporations — and slash government revenue by about $240 billion a year.