Trump is not the champion of blue-collar workers

There’s a disturbing trend emerging from the endless news coverage of Trump’s ascent to the top of the Republican ticket: More and more, the media is painting Donald Trump as a candidate supported by working people, in particular “blue-collar” workers.

The labor movement isn’t fooled by Trump’s tough talk, because his record as a businessman and a quick glimpse at the statements he’s made to voters make it clear where his allegiances are.

When the Midtown Manhattan site for Trump Tower was demolished (in preparation for its construction), Trump exploited foreign workers who were paid as little as $4 a day, and even offered vodka as payment. And he’s not just importing cheap labor, he’s exporting it. Nearly all of his ‘Donald J. Trump’ clothing line is made overseas, and before he decided to be a politician, he claimed outsourcing “creates jobs in the long run.”

In Oregon, where we’ve seen tens of thousands of jobs lost due to offshoring, we know Trump is once again blowing hot air. Trump has made his views on wages clear. Last November he told voters: “Taxes too high, wages too high. We’re not going to be able to compete against the world.” How can anyone who works for a living support a candidate who thinks our wages are too high?

Trump does not side with working people when it comes to our right to stand together and form unions. His company has run an aggressive anti-union campaign against the employees in his Las Vegas hotel, where alleged incidents include physical assault, verbal abuse, intimidation, and threats by management. Complaints with the National Labor Relations Board are ongoing.

Last December, hundreds of workers at his hotel in Las Vegas voted to form a union and were certified in March. Since then, Trump’s company has refused to honor the results of the election and to negotiate a first contract with the workers.

It should come as no surprise that Trump is outspoken in favor of so-called “right to work” laws which diminish the ability of working people to negotiate together. He’s praised Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s attacks against unions and has said he prefers to build new properties without union contracts.

Trump is a man who consistently puts the profits of himself over the prosperity of the people whose work creates his wealth. If he treats the people working for him with such little respect, imagine the kind of short-sighted policies he’ll push for as president.

We have work to do to keep Trump out of the White House. I believe in a country where immigrants have a pathway to citizenship, where women are paid and treated equally, and where workers can stand together, without fear and harassment, to join unions.

We’re going to hear a lot of rhetoric over the next few months as the November election draws close. I hope that you consider the facts when you vote for president: Trump says he wants to make American great again, but for working people? Clearly, it’s not working people.    

Tom Chamberlain is Oregon AFL-CIO president. This column first appeared in the Northwest Labor Press. Used by permission.

Photo: SEIU


Tom Chamberlain
Tom Chamberlain


Tom Chamberlain is President, Oregon AFL-CIO.