Trump Slams AFL-CIO Leader for Sunday Show Comments

Richard Trumka under fire after claiming administration actions that 'hurt workers outpace' those that 'help workers'

President Donald Trump / Getty
September 4, 2018

President Donald Trump on Monday responded to criticisms Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO, leveled at administration policies aimed at uplifting the American worker.

Trump took to social media to assert Trumka had "represented his union poorly" during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday" with Chris Wallace over the weekend, where the labor leader claimed actions taken by the Trump administration that "hurt workers outpace" those that "help workers."

"Richard Trumka, the head of the AFL-CIO, represented his union poorly on television this weekend," Trump tweeted. "Some of the things he said were so against the working men and women of our country, and the success of the U.S. itself, that it is easy to see why unions are doing so poorly. A Dem!"

Trumka, who is in his third term as the leader of the nation's largest federation of unions, appeared on Wallace's show to discuss the ongoing negotiations surrounding the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

After offering initial praise for the parameters emerging for a revised NAFTA agreement, Trumka was asked to elaborate on how "big labor" felt about Trump, especially given the shrinking unemployment rate and the president's use of tariff's to boost domestic manufacturing.

Reiterating a promise he made shortly after the 2016 election, Trumka insisted the administration's policies lean toward hurting workers.

"When he was first elected, I said I would call ball and strikes," Trumka said. "When he did something that was good for workers, we would support him [and] when he did something that was bad for workers, we would oppose him. Unfortunately, to date, the things he's done to hurt workers outpace what he's done to help workers."

Trumka cited the administration's efforts in overturning Obama-era regulations on private employers and the president's inability to pass a comprehensive "infrastructure program" to back up his argument.

The verbal sparring comes amidst a growth in blue-collar and manufacturing jobs.

In July, the economy added 37,000 manufacturing jobs, boosting the total number created in the sector over the past year to 327,000—the fastest rate of growth in 23 years. Likewise, the construction industry has added over 308,000 jobs in the past 12 months, according to data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A Harris Poll released last week indicated that 85 percent of blue-collar workers say their lives are headed in the "right direction." According to the same poll, 61 percent of skilled trade workers, those most likely to belong labor unions like the AFL-CIO, indicated they were better off today than five years ago.