President Donald Trump has done more to hurt American workers than help them, the leader of the largest federation of unions in the nation declared on Sunday. Union workers will likely support Democratic candidates in November, predicted AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka.
Trumka also said that Trump’s proposed replacement for the North America Free Trade Agreement won’t work without Canada. That pointedly contradicts claims by Trump that Canadian participation isn’t necessary in his new trade pact.
As for workers, “unfortunately, to date, the things that he has done to hurt workers outpace what he’s done to help workers,” said Trumka, who represents more more than 12.5 million people.
Though unemployment is down, wages have also been down “since the first of the year,” he said. “Gas prices have been up since the first year. So overall, workers aren’t doing as well,” Trumka told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.”
In addition, Trump “hasn’t come up with an infrastructure program that could put a lot of us back to work,” Trumka added. “He overturned some health and safety regulations that will hurt us on the job.” The president also helped scuttle an Obama administration Labor Department rule that would have extended overtime benefits to close to 5 million workers, Trumka said.
Come November, Trumka said, it “probably will be Democrats” his members support “because Democrats support working people more than Republicans.” But decisions will be made candidate by candidate because “it’s about electing people who will support working people,” he said.
As for NAFTA, he said that the economies of the U.S., Mexico and Canada are so “integrated” that “it’s pretty hard to see how” the NAFTA replacement “would work without having Canada in the deal.”
He added: “We’re anxious to move forward” with a new agreement, “anxious to have all three countries involved.”
He said that NAFTA has had a “devastating effect on the working people of the this country for the last 25 years. So we’ve been aggressively pursuing an agreement that works for the workers in all three countries, and I can say we’re not done yet.”
He said the unions were seeking a way to monitor trade deal compliance, regardless of who is president.
“We’ve been told for over 25 years, ‘Trust us, this agreement will be good for workers.’ What we need is an agreement that we can enforce, no matter who’s in the White House,” he said.
Trump threatened Saturday to scuttle NAFTA and negotiate a new bilateral trade deal with Mexico only, saying there is “no political necessity” to include Canada.
Talks between the White House and Canadian leaders broke down Friday after the Toronto Star published damaging off-the-record comments Trump made the previous day in a Bloomberg interview. Trump said he wasn’t going to make any concessions to Canada in negotiations.
An apparently furious Trump then blasted Bloomberg in a tweet for leaking the quotes, and demanded an apology. Bloomberg denied leaking the off-the-record comments.
On Sunday Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale tweeted that the information did not come from Bloomberg. He said he didn’t want to be a “party to the president’s smearing of excellent, ethical journalists.”
In a speech later Friday in North Carolina at a rally in Charlotte, Trump again bashed Bloomberg. But he seemed pleased by the leak. “At least Canada knows how I feel,” he said. “So, it’s fine.”