Union leaders pan Trump’s State of the Union address

WASHINGTON—Union leaders panned GOP President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address, with different responders emphasizing different aspects, but most slamming the Trump-GOP tax cut for corporations and the rich. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who attended the address, led the way in the criticism, too.

 

“Trump painted an everything-being-great picture of America that while optimistic, is not the reality for most working families. That may be how his friends are living, but the working men and women we represent aren’t seeing the same America, and his policies are making it worse. The truth is many of the things he says are undermined by the actual policies he supports,” Trumka said.

 

The fed president faulted Trump for sticking by “corporate-designed” so-called “free trade” pacts, including the “new NAFTA” now being negotiated between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Another round of talks on that, to replace the jobs-losing 24-year-old NAFTA – which labor strongly opposed – just ended.

 

And while Trump “recognizes the crisis of outsourcing jobs, his tax bill actually encourages corporations to do it. While he promises to put America back to work building infrastructure, he actually wants to spend more on a border wall than investing in all of America’s infrastructure for an entire year.

 

“And he uses hardworking Dreamers and TPS recipients as a bargaining chip to do it. And slashing regulations, one of his biggest applause lines, really means working people are denied wages and workplaces are less safe,” Trumka said. Other union presidents, in statements, and progressive Democrats were also critical:

 

AFT President Randi Weingarten: “The test of any president is whether he can unite a country and enact policies that enable broad-based opportunity. On that measure, President Trump’s inaugural State of the Union failed.” She called his high points “a litany of one-liners on promoting infrastructure, vocational education and paid leave and taking on the opioid crisis and escalating drug prices.” But overtaking them was Trump’s “ugly fear-mongering about immigrants and federal workers.”

 

“For anyone who believes America is a nation of immigrants, that Dreamers should have a home in this country, that workers’ wages should rise, that the rich should not be the biggest winners in the economy, that college and healthcare should be affordable, and that kids should have a ladder of opportunity, you didn’t get that” from Trump’s speech.

 

SEIU President Mary Kay Henry said Trump “is more interested in rolling back the progress we’ve made to raise wages, welcome immigrants and expand healthcare to millions. The president’s signature tax legislation makes it harder for working families to put food on the table, send their kids to college and save for retirement.”

 

 

She also said her union and its allies, including the Dreamers and “Fight for $15 and a union” activists will demand “good union jobs” and pressure Congress “to pass a bipartisan solution that keeps families together” free from deportation. “Men and women of all races are fighting to restore voting rights and enfranchise returning citizens. And people from Alaska to Maine fought back against efforts to take away their healthcare and gut Medicaid, and we will keep up the fight,” she vowed.

 

Communications Workers President Chris Shelton said Trump “tried hard to spin his record on ‘defending American workers,’ but the truth is working people are much worse off one year into the Trump presidency.”

 

“The tax cut that the President and Republicans jammed through Congress gives billions of dollars to corporations and the 1 percent at the expense of the rest of us. Some companies doled out bonuses, and those extra dollars always make a difference. But instead of putting more money into creating good jobs and increasing wages, these corporations have made it clear their tax break will be used mainly to enrich executives and shareholders.”

 

Shelton said Trump’s tax cut “would send even more jobs overseas,” including call center jobs, and Trump’s “plans for a renegotiated NAFTA still include the worst elements of past U.S. trade pacts,” such as lack of enforceable worker rights. And rules to protect workers and consumers “have been reversed.”

 

School Administrators President Diann Woodard: “Although it is encouraging the president called on Congress to invest $1.5 trillion in a national infrastructure plan, he actually wants to spend more on a border wall than investing in all of America’s infrastructure for an entire year. In addition, any national investment plan must include substantial support for our nation’s crumbling schools, which is so desperately needed in so many areas of the country.”

She also said Trump and Congress should lift budget caps for both defense and non-defense spending, especially on education. “Federal education funding is an investment in the future of our nation…Education is the path for each child to become a contributing member of our society,” she explained.

Woodard lauded Trump’s “support for working families and paid leave. However, words are not enough. Many of the president’s policies undermine much of what he says. Workers need fair wages, a safe working environment, job security, quality healthcare, and the ability to retire with dignity. Until policies are enacted that actually address all of these critical areas,

A week and a half before the speech, at the women’s march in D.C., retired Electrical Worker Steve Schwind of Cleveland said the U.S. is “disconnected, and I’m disappointed.” The self-described “fiscal conservative, social liberal, and Reagan Democrat” added Trump “may have been elected by 46 percent of the popular vote, but his obligation is to 100 percent of the country. The march signals a 3-year advance notice” Trump’s constituents will try to toss him out. “From a woman’s point of view,” added his wife, Cheryl, the state of the union is “regressive.” She said, “There’s a whole group of us that feels they’re doing something wrong.”

Source: PAI