Campaign 2016: Union Leaders Praise Clinton Debate Performance; One Union Sector Leader Backs Trump

Union leaders praised Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton’s performance in her first debate with the Republican foe, businessman Donald Trump. But one leader wanted her to talk more about infrastructure, and the president of one sector of one pro-Clinton union said that day that his sector, representing ICE officers, instead backs Trump.

The infrastructure comments came from Ed Wytkind of the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department. He said Clinton could have gone into more detail about her $275-billion 5-year infrastructure plan. On the other hand, Trump hasn’t offered any details at all, he noted..

“Our transportation system has faced decades of neglect due mostly to anti-growth austerity policies that treat investments in our nation’s infrastructure as a waste of money,” Wytkind said.

“As a result, our transit systems are underfunded and can’t meet demand, our roads and bridges are crumbling, our aviation system is behind in modernization and expansion, and many of our ports” can’t “accommodate massive new vessels.

“These deficiencies hurt our economy and burden commuters, large corporations and small businesses, as well as the men and women who operate, maintain and build our transportation system. One candidate has a plan to start reversing years of neglect. The other doesn’t. Take a look.”

The Trump endorsement came from Chris Crane, president of the 5,000-member National Customs and Immigration Enforcement Council. His union became the second small sector of the American Federation of Government Employees – the top federal workers’ union – to back Trump. Trump unveiled the ICE backing at the debate. AFGE backs Clinton.

Crane said Trump sat down to talk about immigration policy with him, and that the union’s first-ever endorsement followed voting by all of its members, with Clinton receiving five percent of the ballots. Crane charged that Clinton’s immigration policies, like those of the Obama administration, cater to “corporate greed and to (get) votes.”

“Our officers come into daily contact with many of the most dangerous people in the world: Cartel members, gang members, weapons traffickers, murder suspects, drug dealers, suspects of violent assault,” Crane declared. “Yet ICE officers are unable to arrest or are forced to release many of the most dangerous back into U.S. communities due to unscrupulous political agendas and corrupt leaders.

“The unconstitutional executive orders of President Obama, embraced by Hillary Clinton, have forced our officers to violate their oaths to uphold the law and placed every person living in America at risk,” Crane claimed.

The ICE union’s Trump endorsement followed one in March by the AFGE sector representing Border Patrol agents, for the same anti-undocumented worker reasons.

Crane differed from AFGE President J. David Cox. Like other union leaders, Cox said the debate showed Clinton’s excellent command of issues and ability to handle the presidency – and Trump’s inability to do so.

“Hillary Clinton understands the top priority for the nation is rebuilding our middle class and creating an economy that works for everyone, not just wealthy individuals and corporations,” Cox said. “Donald Trump wants to take us back to the same failed trickle-down economic policies of the past.

“Donald Trump would run the country like he has run Trump Enterprises – short-changing working people, failing to honor his agreements, and putting his own self-interest ahead of everything else. He has promised to slash the government workforce, eliminate federal departments and agencies that are vital to our security and prosperity, and gut workplace rights that protect taxpayers from a politicized federal civil service.

“Hillary’s a fighter for working families who won’t back down to anyone. She has the tenacity and temperament to hold the highest elected office in the world. She’s precisely the leader we need to make the tough decisions and keep our economy moving forward.”

Other union leaders had similar reactions:

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: “The first question and focal point of the debate was on wages and economic inequality. For more than a year, working people have established a raising wages agenda to shape the political landscape. We’ve seen it on the campaign trail, in the Democratic platform, at both conventions and now at this historic debate. Debates are an opportunity for candidates to show the people who is prepared to be the leader of our nation. Hillary Clinton demonstrated her composure and understanding of the challenges ahead, and provided real solutions. Donald Trump on the other hand proved that he lacks integrity, has no plan for America and is entirely unfit to be president.”

Teachers President Randi Weingarten: “While there were two candidates on stage, only one displayed presidential timber. Hillary Clinton was thoughtful and compassionate, confident and calm, cool and collected. She laid out a vision of a country where the economy works for everyone, and where everybody has a role in creating America’s future.

“Donald Trump is a reality star divorced from reality. He revealed himself as unprepared: Unprepared for this debate, unprepared to advance a single proactive idea to address the American people’s problems, except for tax cuts for the wealthiest, unprepared to stop lying about Iraq and his taxes, or apologize for his noxious birtherism, unprepared, even on his best behavior, to control his temper or stop interrupting. Donald Trump’s performance tonight confirms he is unfit for the presidency of the United States.”

• Service Employees President Mary Kay Henry: “Again, Hillary Clinton showed she will fight, deliver and win on the issues that matter to SEIU members and all working people. In contrast to Donald Trump, who never once talked about how best to help working families, Clinton started by talking about the need for higher wages and continued to lay out her plans for an economy and democracy that work for all of us.

“Hillary Clinton had Donald Trump on the defensive all night. She showed she is the only candidate in this race with the experience and steadiness to bring people together and move our country forward. Donald Trump doubled down on racism, fear and greed and offered no ideas for working people…People listened carefully and concluded there were two people on stage: A proven leader who’s ready to fight for us, and a racist con man.”

• Communications Workers President Chris Shelton: “Hillary Clinton spelled out exactly what her administration would mean to working people: ‘We have to build an economy that works for everyone,

not just those at the top. That means we need new jobs, good jobs, with rising incomes…We also have to make the economy fairer. That starts with raising the national minimum wage and also guarantee, finally, equal pay for women’s work.’

“Donald Trump proposed to help working families by ‘reducing taxes tremendously, from 35 percent to 15 percent for companies, small and big businesses,’ something workers know is just another version of discredited ‘trickle-down economics.’

“Trump said not paying any federal income taxes ‘makes me smart. I take advantage of the laws of the nation because I’m running a company,’ when Clinton challenged him about stiffing workers who worked on Trump projects. He said, ‘That’s called business,’ when Clinton noted Trump ‘rooted for the housing crisis.’

“It’s clear: Working families need Hillary Clinton as our next president.”

Source: PAI