AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka held a roundtable discussion Tuesday to reflect on President Donald Trump’s first year in office. Trumka expressed disappointment in the Trump administration's failure to deliver on promises to secure fairer trade deals, invest in the nation’s infrastructure and revitalize working communities. Trumka also criticized the president for actively using his office to hurt working people.
Last year, 2017, was a challenging year for working people:
I’ll be perfectly frank. 2017 was a difficult year for working people. Corporations did everything in their power to hold down wages. Inequality grew. And politicians at the federal and state level launched a new wave of attacks on our dignity and rights.
Trump not only failed to live up to his promises, he actively sided with those attacking working people:
President Trump said a lot of the right things as a candidate. But his actions haven’t followed suit. There’s been no effort to label China as a currency manipulator. He’s rejected plans to revitalize our coal communities. And despite calling himself a “builder president,” he’s done nothing to invest in America’s infrastructure.
Broken promises are bad enough. But President Trump has also used his office to actively hurt working people. He has joined with corporations and their political allies to undermine the right of workers to bargain collectively. He has taken money out of our pockets and made our workplaces less safe. He has divided our country, abandoned our values and given cover to racism and other forms of bigotry.
But the efforts of Trump and his allies didn't stop working people from coming together:
Yet even in the face of these challenges, we stood strong. We organized. We elected union members to office. We raised wages. We passionately made our case for a new set of economic rules designed to achieve broadly shared prosperity. And America has taken notice. Our approval rating is more than 60%, the highest in almost two decades.
Trumka noted that the energy of working people to stand up and fight back is on the rise:
That moment is close. I can feel it coming. I feel it in every union hall I visit and every picket line I stand on. I feel it in every politician who looks at us differently since we stopped the TPP. I feel it when I talk to brave immigrants ready to come out of the shadows and working women who are saying enough is enough.
And I feel it in the disappointment and determination of working people, one year into the Trump administration.
The president has a choice:
At the end of the day, this is bigger than any politician or president. It’s about making progress for regular working people. If President Trump wants to change course and join us in the fight to raise wages and standards, strengthen our democracy, and build better lives, we will be ready. But if he continues down his current path, workers will be looking for a new president in 2020.