Labor leaders: Can’t work with president who tolerates racist terrorism
AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka. | AP

WASHINGTON (PAI)—A mass exodus in protest of Republican President Donald Trump’s statements seen as sympathetic to white supremacists forced him to throw in the towel on his manufacturing advisory council on August 16. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, former top federation staffer and economist Thea Lee, and several corporate CEOs abandoned Trump last week, leading him to announce the council was being disbanded on Twitter.

Trumka said that while it was Trump’s remarks last week which pushed labor’s resignation, it was not like the council was doing much to help workers anyway.

Trumka, Lee, Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier – who is African-American – and GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt were among those who jumped over the side after Trump reiterated his stand blaming both sides, not the violent racists and anti-Semites, for the three deaths and 19 injuries in Charlottesville, Va., on August 12. Trump even partially blamed the “alt-left.”

But neo-Nazis, KKK racists, and so-called militias incited the violence in Charlottesville by attacking anti-racist protesters. One white supremacist and Hitler admirer, a 20-year-old man from Ohio, deliberately ran down people with his car, killing young paralegal Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. With rhetoric holding “both sides” accountable, Trump effectively condoned the extremist violence. Trumka and Lee joined the exodus when he did.

“We cannot sit on a council for a president who tolerates bigotry and domestic terrorism. President Trump’s remarks today (August 15) repudiate his forced remarks yesterday about the KKK and neo-Nazis. We must resign on behalf of America’s working people, who reject all notions of legitimacy of these bigoted groups,” Trumka declared on behalf of himself and Lee.

Trumka also called the council “never an effective means for delivering real policy that lifts working families—and his [Trump’s]remarks today were the last straw.

“We joined this council with the intent to be a voice for working people and real hope it would result in positive economic policy, but it has become yet another broken promise on the president’s record. From hollow councils to bad policy and embracing bigotry, the actions of this administration have consistently failed working people,” Trumka concluded.

After the resignations of Trumka, Lee, and the CEOs, Trump killed the council in a tweet: “Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!” he wrote.



Press Associates Union News Service provides national coverage of news affecting workers, including activism, politics, economics, legislation in Congress and actions by the White House, federal agencies and the courts that affect working people. Mark Gruenberg is Editor in chief and owner of Press Associates Union News Service, Washington, D.C.