'The reality and rhetoric of Donald Trump are radically different' (Same for Bevin)

By BERRY CRAIG

AFT Local 1360

More than 38 percent of union members nationwide voted for Donald Trump in 2016, according to polling guru Nate Silver.

Louisville labor lawyer Dave Suetholz thinks the president might not fare as well in union ranks next November. More on that in a minute. 

"The reality and rhetoric of Donald Trump are radically different," said Suetholz. "He says he cares about the American worker--America first. That's rhetoric, a joke. The reality is that all of his appointees are business cronies who couldn't care less about working people."

"When it comes to wowing workers, Donald Trump is an absolute magician," Steven Greenhouse wrote in The American Prospect last August. "Through some mysterious sorcery, he has convinced millions of American workers that he is their true friend, fighting hard for them, even though he and his appointees have taken one anti-worker action after another—dozens of them."

Greenhouse added that think tanks and worker advocates have tallied long lists of Trump's anti-worker and anti-union actions—some of them more than 50 examples long. 

It's not that union members weren't warned about Trump's real agenda. Elected union leaders and union supporters like Suetholz pointed out --and are still pointing out--that Trump is not in labor's corner.

He ran on a stock Wall Street Republican platform with planks supporting:

— “right to work” (On the campaign trail, Trump said he preferred RTW states to non-RTW states.)

— repeal of the prevailing wage on federal construction projects

— deep cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid

— sharp rollbacks in federal regulations that safeguard worker safety and health on the job, protect consumers, and shield the environment from polluters

— hefty tax breaks for corporations and for rich people and tax crumbs for working class Americans. 

"In Trumpland, everybody scrapes by, working minimum wage, or slightly above, jobs," Suetholz said. "But we're going to wake up from this nightmare. I'm hopeful."

Elections for governor in Kentucky and Louisiana this month suggest that Suetholz might have good reason to hope. Unions played big roles in electing Democrat Andy Beshear in Kentucky and reelecting Democrat John Bel Edwards in Louisiana. 

The Kentucky State AFL-CIO endorsed Beshear; Edwards earned the Louisiana State AFL-CIO nod.  Hundreds of Beshear and Edwards volunteers were men and women who pack union cards. 

Trump (and Vice President Mike Pence) stumped for anti-union Republican Gov. Matt Bevin in Kentucky and for Eddie Rispone, Edwards' anti-union GOP challenger. The president's message could hardly have been plainer: votes for Bevin and Rispone were votes for him.

"Our movement is about liberating people," Suetholz said of organized labor. "You deserve to earn a decent living that allows you to spend time with your family and feel secure, and that's being dismantled under Trump."

Bevin, too; he swung his wrecking ball at Kentucky's house of labor. Though battered, the century-old dwelling still stands. 

Bill Londrigan, state AFL-CIO president, shares Suetholz's optimism. "We know that with Andy Beshear working families have a strong ally," Londrigan said on election night after the votes were tallied.

Londrigan is on Beshear's transition team. So is Bill Finn, state director of the Kentucky State Building and Construction Trades Council. "These past four years of the Bevin administration were the darkest period for union construction workers and our signatory contractors in Kentucky’s history," said Finn. "We all hope for a new, brighter future for our members under Gov. Andy Beshear."