It's hardly front-page news that Donald Trump is a big-league flip-flopper. Through Sept. 7, NBC News has tracked "117 distinct policy shifts on 20 major issues, tracking only his reversals since he announced his candidacy on June 16, 2015."
But the GOP presidential hopeful is consistent on organized labor. He keeps trying to con union members with tough talk on trade. Trump promises to bring home American jobs lost to foreign countries, notably of the cheap-labor variety. "Our country is getting ripped off," his website says. "We need the smartest people negotiating for us!"
But mum's the word on the website about Trump's record on outsourcing. Trump is a big-league outsourcer. His lucrative line of shirts, eyeglasses, perfume, cuff links and suits are produced in Bangladesh, China, Honduras and other low-wage countries, The Washington Post reported.
Trump never misses a chance to hammer the North American Free Trade Agreement, championed by President Bill Clinton, supported by most House and Senate Republicans and opposed by most House and Senate Democrats.
In July, UAW President Dennis Williams said Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee for president, promised him she would try to rewrite NAFTA to better protect America's workers, according to the Detroit Free Press. The UAW endorsed Clinton. So did the AFL-CIO and dozens of individual unions. Only two unions not affiliated with the AFL-CIO have endorsed Trump.
Anyway, here’s what the 2016 Republican platform—nailed together with input from the Trump campaign—says about trade:
We envison [sic] a worldwide multilateral agreement among nations committed to the principle of open markets, which has been called a 'Reagan Economic Zone,' in which free trade will truly be fair trade for all concerned. We need better negotiated trade agreements that put America first. When trade agreements have been carefully negotiated with friendly democracies[italics mine], they have resulted in millions of new jobs here at home supported by our exports.
Reagan, who busted the Professional Air Traffic Controllers union in 1981, went on to become the most anti-union president since Republican Herbert Hoover. Canada and Mexico, America's NAFTA partners, are friendly democracies. So it would seem the platform, on which Trump is running, is pro-NAFTA.
Meanwhile, Trump continues to claim a Clinton administration would be a continuation of the Obama administration. The platform denounces the Obama administration for:
attacking the franchise model of business development, which is essential to the flexibility and creativity of the new economy. 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. They have repealed union transparency rules that allowed members to discover what was being done with their dues. They have outlawed alternatives to unions even when they were favored by the workers.
The platform rejects project labor agreements, which it says discriminates "against the overwhelming majority of workers by barring them from jobs on taxpayer-funded projects. Their patronizing and controlling approach leaves workers in a form of peonage to the NLRB. We intend to restore fairness and common sense to that agency."
In other words, the Fair Labor Standards Act and project labor agreements are out and an NLRB stacked with pro-business and anti-union members is in.
Retirement? "Technology has already created jobs that did not exist 15 years ago, and today’s workers need flexibility and family-friendly options to make the most of them, especially portability in pension plans and health insurance." Translation: The more 401(k)s, the fewer the defined pension plans and the skimpier health insurance programs for workers the better it will be for the bosses.
Trump is all in for the GOP union-busting. He said he prefers "right to work" states to non-right to work states.
The platform pledges to bring:
labor law into the 21st century. It should encourage cooperation between management and workers, not conflict. All workers, including union members, must be free to accept raises and rewards without veto power from union officials. All unionized workers should be able to find out what is going on in their union trust funds and in their executive compensation. We support the right of states to enact right-to-work laws and call for a national law to protect the economic liberty of the modern workforce.
The platform portrays unions as discriminators against working people:
All Americans deserve the opportunity to pursue their American dream free from discrimination. Clear nondiscrimination policies ensure all employees have the chance to succeed based solely on their merits. These policies are vital to creating an inclusive, innovative and competitive workforce.
The platform also says "minimum wage is an issue that should be handled at the state and local level," and the platform attacks public sector unions. "The unionization of the federal workforce, first permitted by Democrat [the old Republican slam] presidents in the 1960s, should be reviewed by the appropriate congressional committees to examine its effects on the cost, quality and performance of the civil service. Union representatives in the federal workforce should not be paid to conduct union business on the public’s time."
In short, the platform is filled with flat fibs and double-talk carefully worded to split the rank-and-file from their freely elected union leaders. It's the divide-and-conquer strategy conservatives have been using on organized labor for eons.
Charity, it is said, begins at home. Trump has battled, tooth and nail, to keep his hotel workers from having a union.
Here’s the bottom line: If Trump wins, the Republicans will almost certainly hold the House and Senate and probably add to their majorities. All that has stood between organized labor, a national right to work law and the rest of the GOP’s anti-union agenda has been President Barack Obama’s veto pen. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) favor a national right to work law. Neither share Trump’s professed disdain for NAFTA and other trade deals.
So with Trump and a GOP Congress, unions will almost certainly get 50-state, federally mandated right to work. The chances for a new and improved NAFTA will disappear and other trade deals will probably get a new lease on life. The GOP will try—and may well succeed—to wipe out almost every significant gain unions have made since FDR and the New Deal. For unions, Trump and Congress will become a federal version of Gov. Scott Walker's Wisconsin, Gov. Rick Snyder's Michigan and Indiana under Gov. Mike Pence, Trump's running mate.
Here’s something else to ponder: Trump makes millions off outsourcing. Why would he upset the "free trade" apple cart?
Talk is the cheapest commodity among politicians, notably of the P.T. Barnum-Donald Trump variety.
"There’s a sucker born every minute," the celebrated circus hoax master Barnum supposedly said. The Donald figures to sucker enough folks who pack union cards to help propel him from Trump Tower to the White House.