GOP ‘platform’: Almost nothing for workers
Nothing in the GOP "non platform" for restaurant workers. | Unsplash

CHARLOTTE, N.C.—The Republican Party’s 2020 “platform” has almost nothing for workers. Technically, there’s not a platform at all and the only thing workers need, according to the GOP, is four more years of Trump.

Instead of a platform, there’s a two-page 355-word statement issued by Oval Office occupant Donald Trump himself. In simple phrases of a few words each, he describes what he would push if voters return him to the White House on November 3.

And for the rest, the GOP Convention’s Executive Committee decided, voters should consult the document adopted in the party convention in Cleveland four years ago. That platform had few worker-oriented provisions, too—and most of them were negative.

Nothing in the GOP “non platform” for baristas. | Unsplash

On worker issues the contrast between the two parties is enormous. The detailed 2020 Democratic platform, unveiled about two weeks before, is the strongest pro-worker platform in 50 years, says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, a drafting committee member.

It strongly endorses the Protect The Right To Organize (PRO) Act, the strongest pro-worker labor law since the original 1935 National Labor Relations Act. The Democratic platform also backs first responders’ right to organize and bargain in all states. Several, notably Texas and especially North Carolina, now ban such bargaining.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden goes further. The PRO Act would increase fines for labor-law breaking, enact card-check recognition and mandate arbitration when the two sides can’t agree on first contracts, among other pro-worker provisions. Biden advocates “perp walks”—jail—for chronic labor law-breaking corporate honchos, too.

And he’d use the billions of dollars the government hands out in private-sector contracts yearly to enforce worker rights. Break that law, which mandates bidders must obey federal labor, environmental and tax laws, Biden and his platform say, and you can’t chase federal dollars, either.

Without a platform, the GOP’s 336 delegates opened their meeting in Charlotte, N.C., on August 24 by re-nominating Trump. More than 2,100 other delegates and speakers participated by Zoom, but not Trump himself. He strode on stage midway through the rollcall and delivered an unscripted 60-minute diatribe against the Democrats, Biden, and other targets.

Nothing in the GOP “non platform” for hair cutters and hair stylists. | Unsplash

His document, entitled in boldface “President Trump—Fighting for You!”, was issued the day before the conclave opened. It had few specifics. Trump did promise to create 10 million new jobs in the U.S. in the first 10 months of 2021. He didn’t say how. Ditto for creating one million new small businesses.

And Trump pledged to “Cut Taxes to Boost Take-Home Pay and Keep Jobs in America, Enact Fair Trade Deals that Protect American Jobs” and enact “’Made in America’ Tax Credits.” The capitalization is his.

Trump did not say who would benefit from his next tax cut. He made a similar promise for the 2017 Trump-GOP $1.7 trillion tax cut. Non-partisan analysts found at least 83% of it went to corporations and the 1%, leaving some big firms with little to nothing to pay. Millions of middle-class and working-class workers got hit with tax hikes, especially workers in “blue” states.

And Trump’s two-page paper included slams at China. He continued his racist use of the term “China virus,” blaming it for the coronavirus pandemic.

The statement ignored, of course, how China has saved the lives of many millions of workers by bringing the pandemic under control. He ignored too the fact that China has come through for Americans by sending protective equipment for first responders while the federal government, under Trump, does nothing.

He further bashed China in a section of the document entitled “Banning Federal Contracts For Companies Who Outsource To China,” and promised he would “Bring Back One Million Manufacturing Jobs From China.”

This time he said how: Giving the companies both tax credits and 100% expensing deductions for buying new equipment.

Nothing in the GOP “non platform” for postal workers. | Unsplash

Trump’s paper also embraced one far-right social issue that hurts a big group of workers: teachers. He promised to “Provide School Choice for Every Child in America.” That’s GOP code for taxpayer-paid vouchers to parents of private school kids. Left unsaid: Most of those kids are white and the schools are racially selective. Voucher money gets taken away from underfunded public schools and teachers.

Ironically, Politico reported that voucher language wasn’t enough to satisfy Trump’s right-wing base. They wanted more red meat, such as outlawing abortion, in his document.

They got that pledge—and more–in the 2016 platform the GOP incorporated by reference for this year. It even posted that platform on the 2020 convention website. Some key points affecting workers:

  • “We should reduce the occupational licensing laws that shut untold millions of potential workers out of entrepreneurial careers. We must overturn the regulatory nightmare, created by the Dodd-Frank law,” enacted after financiers caused the 2008 Great Recession, that 2016 platform says.
  • Trump’s two-pager actually goes even further than that. He would “End Government Bullying Of U.S. Citizens And Small Businesses” and “Continue Deregulatory Agenda For Energy Independence”—again, code words for turning fossil fuel industries loose.
  • The GOP’s 2016 platform also promised to “challenge the anach­ronistic labor laws that limit workers’ freedom and lock them into the workplace rules of their great-grandfathers.” That again was code for enacting so-called right to work laws and weakening federal labor law protections.

“Instead of facilitating change, the current ad­ministration and its agents at the National Labor Relations Board are determined to reverse it,” that platform said. “They are wielding provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act from the 1930s, designed to fit a manufacturing workplace, to deny flexibility to both employers and employ­ees.”

Reversing labor law protections, at least, is one 2016 platform promise the solely Trump-named three-white-man all-GOP NLRB is carrying out.

  • That platform also advocated enacting so-called “merit pay,” which bosses control, banning Project Labor Agreements on federally funded construction, and demanded cuts in federal workers’ pay, pensions, and other benefits. “A Republican administration should streamline personnel procedures to expedite the firing of bad workers, tax cheats, and scammers,” it said. And it demanded congressional labor committees “review”—code word for “outlaw”—federal worker unions.
  • And in a forecast of Trump’s continuing war on migrants, including, now, legal migrants, that platform declared “the interests of American workers must be protected over the claims of foreign nationals seeking the same jobs.”

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CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

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