Union leaders pan Trump’s State of the Union address

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TRUMP’S STATE OF THE UNION address elicited the usual Republican applause, but union leaders are panning the address and the president’s first year in office for rolling back progress and making life harder for working families. – Jim Lo Scalzo/European Press Agency photo

By Mark Gruenberg
PAI Staff Writer

Washington (PAI)– Union leaders panned GOP President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address Jan. 30, with most slamming the Trump/GOP tax cut scam giving large, permanent tax cuts to corporations and the rich and only small temporary cuts for working families.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who attended the address, led the way in the criticism, too.

“Trump painted an everything-being-great picture of America that while optimistic, is not the reality for most working families,” Trumka said. “That may be how his friends are living, but the working men and women we represent aren’t seeing the same America, and his policies are making it worse. The truth is many of the things he says are undermined by the actual policies he supports.”

Trumka faulted Trump for sticking by “corporate-designed” so-called “free trade” pacts, including the “new NAFTA” now being negotiated between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Another round of talks on that, to replace the jobs-losing 24-year-old NAFTA – which Labor strongly opposed – just ended.

While Trump “recognizes the crisis of outsourcing jobs, his tax bill actually encourages corporations to do it,” Trumka said. “While he promises to put America back to work building infrastructure, he actually wants to spend more on a border wall than investing in all of America’s infrastructure for an entire year.

“And he uses hardworking Dreamers and TPS recipients as a bargaining chip to do it. And slashing regulations, one of his biggest applause lines, really means working people are denied wages and workplaces are less safe,” Trumka said.

ONE-LINERS AND FEAR-MONGERING

“The test of any president is whether he can unite a country and enact policies that enable broad-based opportunity,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said. “On that measure, President Trump’s inaugural State of the Union failed.”

Weingarten called Trump’s high points “a litany of one-liners on promoting infrastructure, vocational education and paid leave and taking on the opioid crisis and escalating drug prices.”

But she said those points were overtaken by Trump’s “ugly fear-mongering about immigrants and federal workers.”

“For anyone who believes that America is a nation of immigrants, that Dreamers should have a home in this country, that workers’ wages should rise, that the rich should not be the biggest winners in the economy, that college and healthcare should be affordable, and that kids should have a ladder of opportunity, you didn’t get that tonight.”

‘ROLLING BACK PROGRESS’

SEIU President Mary Kay Henry said Trump “is more interested in rolling back the progress we’ve made to raise wages, welcome immigrants and expand healthcare to millions. The president’s signature tax legislation makes it harder for working families to put food on the table, send their kids to college and save for retirement.”

She also said her SEIU and its allies, including Fight for $15 and a union, activists and Dreamers will demand “good union jobs” and pressure Congress “to pass a bipartisan solution that keeps families together” free from deportation.

“Men and women of all races are fighting to restore voting rights and enfranchise returning citizens. And people from Alaska to Maine fought back against efforts to take away their healthcare and gut Medicaid, and we will keep up the fight,” she vowed.

TRUTH IS WORKING PEOPLE ARE WORSE OFF UNDER TRUMP

Communications Workers President Chris Shelton said Trump “tried hard to spin his record on ‘defending American workers,’ but the truth is that working people are much worse off one year into the Trump presidency.

“The tax cut that the President and Republicans jammed through Congress gives billions of dollars to corporations and the 1% at the expense of the rest of us. Some companies doled out bonuses, and those extra dollars always make a difference. But instead of putting more money into creating good jobs and increasing wages, these corporations have made it clear their tax break will be used mainly to enrich executives and shareholders.”

Shelton said Trump’s tax cut “would send even more jobs overseas,” including call center jobs, and Trump’s “plans for a renegotiated NAFTA still include the worst elements of past U.S. trade pacts,” such as lack of enforceable worker rights. And rules to protect workers and consumers “have been reversed.”

MORE FOR BORDER WALL THAN INFRASTRUCTURE

School Administrators President Diann Woodard: “Although it is encouraging the president called on Congress to invest $1.5 trillion in a national infrastructure plan, he actually wants to spend more on a border wall than investing in all of America’s infrastructure for an entire year.

“In addition, any national investment plan must include substantial support for our nation’s crumbling schools, which is so desperately needed in so many areas of the country.”

She also said Trump and Congress should lift budget caps for both defense and non-defense spending, especially on education.

“Federal education funding is an investment in the future of our nation… Education is the path for each child to become a contributing member of our society,” she explained.

FAILING WORKING FAMILIES

Woodard lauded Trump’s “support for working families and paid leave. However, words are not enough,” she said.

“Many of the president’s policies undermine much of what he says. Workers need fair wages, a safe working environment, job security, quality healthcare, and the ability to retire with dignity.”

Until Congress and Trump enact laws to “actually address all of these critical areas, then we are failing working families.”

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