AFL-CIO Open to Helping Trump

Trumka: 'If he does something that is good for the economy and workers, we're going to be behind him'

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka / AP

The president of America's largest labor organization expressed his willingness to work with President Donald Trump during an interview Tuesday.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said that he has been impressed by Trump on several key economic issues, particularly trade, though he considers his overall performance a "mixed bag."

Trump followed through on a campaign promise to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal with a dozen Asian countries. The deal was originally negotiated by the Obama administration and embraced by newly elected Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, who served as President Obama's Labor Secretary.

"What he did on TPP was good. The thing he's trying to do with infrastructure is good. There's a lot of those things. And then on the other side, he put some people in there that were anti-union," Trumka told Fox News's Neil Cavuto.

The AFL-CIO endorsed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in June after staying neutral during her contentious primary against self-described socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.). The union spent more than $20 million in its efforts to elect Clinton and other Democratic candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Trumka denounced Trump onstage at the Democratic National Conventional in July.

"Working people are strong. And Donald Trump? He is flat-out wrong. Listen, he thinks he is a tough guy," Trumka said at the time. "Mr. Trump, I worked in the mines with tough guys. I know tough guys, and they are friends of mine. Mr. Trump, you’re no tough guy."

The labor leader has taken a more conciliatory approach to the Trump administration after Trump won support among grassroots union members. He captured more than 40 percent of union households and trailed Clinton by only eight points among union members despite receiving just two union endorsements on the campaign trail—the best GOP showing since 1984.

Trumka said that he is willing to help Trump during his interview with Cavuto.

"He had a message where he wasn't going to let Wall Street run wild and he said the American economy works best when it works for American workers. Now they want him to put that into action," Trumka said. "If he does that, I think he's going to find support from not only all workers quite frankly because the rules are rigged against them and we want the rules rewritten, if he will, we'll help him."

Trumka joined other labor leaders in opposing Trump's first Labor Secretary nominee, fast food executive Andrew Puzder, but praised the selection of former National Labor Relations Board and Florida International University Law School Dean Alexander Acosta. Acosta has earned endorsements from several prominent unions since his nomination was announced. Trumka said that he liked Acosta "much more" than Puzder.

"He was a public servant and has a record of enforcing the laws that he's been put in charge of whether its the NLRB or otherwise," Trumka said. "We think he deserves absolute serious consideration."