President-elect Donald Trump, a supposedly populist candidate who rose to power on promises made to frustrated American workers, has now seemingly launched what Politico is describing as an outright “war on unions.”
Labor leaders and advocates across the nation are rallying in support of United Steelworkers Local 1999 president Chuck Jones, after Trump publicly attacked the Indiana union leader for calling him out for lying about the number of Carrier jobs the incoming president claimed to have saved from being outsourced to Mexico.
“An attack on [Jones] is an attack on all working people,” Richard Trumka, president of the nation’s largest union federation AFL-CIO, declared Thursday.
The hashtag #ImWithChuck has drawn a groundswell of support for Jones, including from national labor groups and prominent progressive politicians Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who called Jones personally on Thursday to “commend him for holding the president-elect accountable.”
Amid that public battle, Trump doubled-down on his anti-worker agenda on Thursday with the nomination of fast-food executive and union critic Andrew Puzder for secretary of Labor.
“Trump might as well rebrand the Labor Department as the ‘anti-worker department,'” Politico reported SEIU president Mary Kay Henry as saying. “Somebody like Andrew Puzder earns in one day what the workers in his stores earn in a year,” Henry added, pointing to the low wages earned by workers at Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, which are part of Pudzer’s CKE Restaurants. “The absolute economic inequality that he represents is the actual thing that we’ve counted on the Labor Department to stand against.”
In a nod to the impropriety of that nomination, Jones himself opened up a press conference Friday morning with the joke, “I was not offered a job as secretary of Labor. That’s off the table.”
The feud with Jones, followed up with his nomination of Pudzer, have together sent a clear message to labor groups and American workers that, despite his campaign rhetoric, the president-elect is not on their side.
“Anyone who believes in robust, pluralistic democracy should be worried that a national leader, so soon after being elected, is assailing labor unions with an eye to weakening them,” wrote former New York Times labor reporter Steven Greenhouse on Thursday.
“It’s part of a larger agenda,” RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, told Politico, “and you can see it playing out in terms of his picks, which is to destroy the labor movement.”
“They want to do away with democracy,” she continued. “That’s the problem. Labor is a check on the balance of power with corporations and they want labor out of the way.”
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