Buyer’s Remorse for Trump Fans

Director’s Column – December 15, 2016

Next month, Donald Trump will become president.  Our democracy depends on a peaceful transition of power.  For the good of our nation, I hope he will surprise us and build bridges, not walls.

Candidate Trump promised to bring back jobs and take care of forgotten blue-collar workers.  Enough people, in the right states, believed him.  Now all of us must hold him accountable.     

So far, it’s not looking good for working people. 

Weeks after winning the election, Trump arranged for tax breaks that would keep Indiana-based Carrier jobs from moving to Mexico.  Turns out, the Carrier deal isn’t saving as many manufacturing jobs as Trump boasted.  When Chuck Jones, the president of the United Steelworkers local, said so publicly, Trump attacked him on Twitter.  It was a remarkable act of disrespect – an incoming president lashing out at a private citizen for speaking the truth.

More profound disrespect seems to be on the way.  The day after the Twitter attack on Chuck Jones, Trump picked a Secretary of Labor who is hostile to working people.  Andrew Puzder opposes raising the federal minimum wage, frozen at $7.25 for seven years. 

Puzder has also been outspoken against President Obama’s overtime rule.  He argues that what workers will sacrifice in time-and-a-half pay, they will gain in the “stature and a sense of accomplishment” that comes with a low-paid salaried position.  We know that doesn’t pay the bills.

If confirmed, Puzder will join several other millionaires and billionaires in Trump’s cabinet.  It’s hard to see how Trump will fight for the little guy if he surrounds himself with so few of them.

Puzder favors replacing workers with robots.  Why?  Because machines, he says, are “always polite…never take a vacation…there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex or race discrimination case.” 

We can’t suddenly forget or forgive what Trump said during the campaign. 

We can’t forget that Trump said “I love the right to work.  I like it better because it is lower.”  No thanks, Donald.  Workers reject the right to earn less, get sick, and die poor without union protection.

We can’t forget the vile way Trump talks about women and that he bragged about sexually assaulting them.

We can’t forget that Trump mocked people with disabilities.

We can’t forget that Trump exploited racist stereotypes when he described African American communities as “war zones” and “hell.”

We can’t forget that Trump failed to immediately disavow the endorsement of David Duke, a neo-Nazi.

We can’t forget that Trump named a white supremacist as his campaign manager and chief strategist.

We can’t forget that Trump called Mexican immigrants “rapists” and promised to build a wall on the Mexico border.

We can’t forget that Trump proposed banning Muslims from entering our country.

As is customary, Trump has pledged to be a president “for all Americans” and the working class.  Given the early signs, AFSCME is not counting on it.

Inauguration Day is coming soon.  Organized labor stands ready to help President Trump do right by workers.  But it feels like a cruel bait-and-switch: a campaign that promised to lift up working people is transitioning into an administration designed to tear all of us down.  

-Eliot Seide, executive director