September 4, 2017

Labor unions on upswing as Trumka takes on Trump

NPR - Ask AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka about the climate for unions on this Labor Day weekend, and he starts with something positive: a new Gallup poll showing public support for unions at its highest point since 2003.

"There's much more excitement about unions," Trumka says during an interview in his Washington, D.C., office just across Lafayette Square Park and with a view of the White House. He adds that, "over 61 percent of the people in the country support unions."

That number is significant, especially when you consider that just 8 years ago — in the wake of the deep financial crisis, automobile company bailouts and serious economic troubles that then-new President Obama was dealing with — that just 48 percent of Americans expressed a positive view of unions in a similar Gallup poll.

Trumka, the son of a mineworker and a former mineworker himself, says the improvement is because people recognize that unions are fighting for workers in an economy where most of the rules and levers of power are controlled by corporate interests.

Last year's presidential election was a bad one for the labor movement.

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton carried the votes of union households by 9 percentage points. But that's a big drop-off compared to the 18-percent margin among union voters for President Obama four years earlier. That shift most certainly had an impact in Midwestern battleground states.

Trump captured some of those voters by promising to revive American manufacturing, in part by cracking down on trade. He'd take on China and impose tariffs on steel, he pledged, and he'd renegotiate or tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA, which he said only encouraged U.S. companies to send work to Mexico at the expense of the jobs of American workers. That message resonated in union halls in the upper Midwest where job declines and factory closings have radically altered the economic landscape.

[Trumka says] there are obstacles the labor movement faces. There's the fact that a majority of states — 28 — now also have those right-to-work laws.

But Trumka also says that President Trump's own actions — from calls for deep tax cuts for big corporations, to the the attacks on the Affordable Care Act, to his response to the recent white nationalist march and violence in Charlottesville, Va. — all help make the case.


Anonymous said...

If Trumka allied his unions with the Green Party he would be the kind of union leader he thinks he is.

As it is, he's just one more fawning flunky of the dismal Democrats.

Anonymous said...

Yeah...but they're not his unions , and flunkies generally have more of a say than he does , but taking all that into consideration , I agree.-J.Joslin ( IBEW Local # 58 Detroit )