Citing Trump’s racism, SEIU VP Lang quits presidential infrastructure advisory panel

WASHINGTON—Citing Republican President Donald Trump’s racism, yet another top union leader, Service Employees Executive Vice President Valarie Lang, quit yet another presidential advisory panel, on travel and tourism infrastructure.

And she says Trump isn’t paying attention to infrastructure, either.

Lang became at least the third top unionist – following AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and former top federation staffer Thea Lee – to quit a Trump advice panel as a result of his championing of the racists and extremists who killed Heather Heyer and injured 19 other people during the racists’ riot in Charlottesville, Va., on August 12.

“I won’t work with a president who defends racism,” said Lang, who is African-American and whose union has hundreds of thousands of African-American members. She elaborated in an open letter to her 24 advisory panel colleagues.

The infrastructure advisory panel, like the manufacturing panel Trumka and Lee quit, has no power to propose legislation. But its members advise policymakers, put ideas forward and often discuss them with executive branch members.

Trump hasn’t even convened the panel since he entered the Oval Office, Lang noted. His Transportation Secretary, Elaine Chao, was unaware it existed when lawmakers asked her about it, Lang said.

And Trump hasn’t advanced a detailed infrastructure plan, which he promised during the 2016 campaign, and instead wants to cut federal infrastructure funds to state and local governments and defund Amtrak, Lang said. She calls the highly unionized passenger railroad “a vital part” of U.S. infrastructure. But her key point was Trump’s views.

“As executive vice president of an organization that represents 2 million members, the majority of whom are women and people of color, and advocates for more than 110,000 airport workers – half of whom are immigrants and the majority of whom are people of color – and also represents security officers in transit systems as well as railroad workers, I am sickened by the statements the president made blaming ‘both sides’ for the hatred, bigotry and violence in Charlottesville, instead of standing up to the white supremacists and their racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ views,” she wrote to her colleagues.

“If the president cannot unequivocally condemn the violent actions of white supremacists and domestic terrorists, and see this as a wake-up call that the country must address its long history of slavery and racism, I see no hope whatsoever he will make any effort to empower working people and the public through our travel infrastructure,” Lang said.

Other infrastructure panel members include Minnesota Transportation Commissioner Charles Zelle, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Oregon Tourism CEO Todd Davidson. Former Democratic President Barack Obama named all 25.

Source: PAI