A leaked White House memo, first reported by the New York Times and later obtained by POLITICO, outlines President Trump’s plans to destroy public and private-sector unions, get rid of worker protections, cripple workers’ ability to organize, and increase profits for corporate special interests.
The explosive 19-page document, prepared in 2017 by Special Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy James Sherk – previously a research fellow at the regressive, anti-worker Heritage Foundation – encourages President Donald Trump to pursue a “non-traditional labor legislative agenda” that would sideline union leaders and eliminate all job protections for federal workers, including a requirement that federal contractors provide paid sick leave for employees.
“Most rank-and-file (private sector) union members voted for the president, while their unions are run by left-wing ideologues,” Sherk wrote. “This cleavage creates an opportunity for the President to appeal to union members while making it more difficult for union executives to oppose him.”
In a written statement to POLITICO, White House spokesperson Judd Deere confirmed the document was used in policy deliberations but did not comment on whether the White House’s goals have changed.
“It is quite common for White House staff to suggest to agency staff potential actions that would begin a discussion around ideas to advance the President’s agenda,” Deere said in a statement, later adding “The White House will continue to work with the Department of Labor and new Secretary (of Labor) Gene Scalia to advance policies that protect the American worker and grow our economy.”
TRUMP’S RHETORIC ON UNIONS
Over the past two years, Trump’s rhetoric on unions has echoed Sherk’s recommendations. He has repeatedly bashed Labor leaders as greedy opportunists; at rallies across the country and on Twitter, the president has complained about the price of union dues, criticized the leader of the AFL-CIO, and said union leaders “rip-off their membership … But the members love Trump.”
The memo suggested Trump “prominently support legislation that aims to improve private-sector union representation instead of curtailing it. These proposals would be difficult for union executives to oppose and help brand the President a supporter of union members.”
Among the union recommendations, the memo encouraged Trump to support legislation to address state “Right-to-Work” laws by giving unions the option to represent only those workers who pay collective bargaining fees. The change would “allow the president to eliminate a major union complaint without coercing workers to pay dues,” the memo says.
(Information from AFGE and POLITICO.)
Divide and conquer
Laced with familiar half-truths and outright lies, a recently leaked White House memo is proof the administration’s true goal in making changes to personnel rules for federal workers has been to “end collective bargaining” in the federal sector, sideline union leaders and eliminate all job protections.
Federal workers are featured prominently in the memo as the administration’s main target.
• The memo discusses ways to purge federal unions and end collective bargaining.
• It discusses steps to dismantle the federal workforce and cut pay and benefits.
• It has seven bullet points on firing federal employees. The administration is obviously not concerned about making the government more efficient, just how they can more efficiently get rid of career civil servants who have served their country honorably.
The memo also contains the seeds of the President’s union-busting executive orders (EOs). Several bullet points from the memo made it into the EOs.
The administration can no longer pretend that the EOs’ purpose is to improve the government. It’s all about destroying unions and civil servants.
Also on the hit list are private-sector workers.
• The memo discusses ways to make it impossible for workers to unionize.
• It details steps to boost corporations’ profits by cutting workers’ overtime pay and redefining workers as independent contractors.
• It explains ways to shield mega-corporations from being liable for workers’ poor working conditions in franchises.
DIVIDE AND CONQUER
The administration’s divide-and-conquer strategy with respect to Organized Labor is as disgusting as it is shameful.
Unions are a cornerstone of our democracy and middle class. Congresses and administrations have for decades enacted laws and implemented policies that protect federal employees’ rights to bargain collectively.
But the Trump administration sees unions as enemies to be wiped out.
(Information from The Insider, a publication of AFGE.)