On a national conference call with Regional, State and Local union leaders and activists, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka laid out the AFL-CIO’s plan of defense against the coming attacks lead by Trump and his toxic cabinet picks.
Trumka highlighted three areas to be immediately focused on: health care, Trump’s cabinet nominees and state legislative and political battles.
On health care, President Trumka stated that “Virtually everything working people have gained to improve health and retirement security since the New Deal is now at risk” mentioning Medicare, Medicaid, workplace health insurance plans, the coverage gains of the Affordable Care Act, and Social Security. He went on to say that Republicans in Congress are scurrying to scrap the Affordable Care Act without providing an alternative, leaving nearly 30 million Americans without health care, many of whom are either union members or family of union members and the “we will not let that happen without a fight.”
Trumka asked union members to use the AFL-CIO’s hotline to direct calls to their Senators and tell them if they repeal the ACA without having a plan to protect Medicare, Medicaid, workers’ health insurance plans, and the tens of millions of Americans who attained health coverage due to the ACA, Labor “will remember who took health care away from millions of working people.” He also urged members to participate in actions being held and organized by supporters of the ACA in the Senate and House on Sunday, Jan 15 in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin and to “stand shoulder to shoulder with other working people and send a message to Republicans.”
On Trump’s Cabinet nominations, President Trumka did not mince words saying “Donald Trump is deceitfully and cynically handing the government over to the billionaire beneficiaries of our broken economic system who’ve made working people weaker and poorer.” He continued saying that by nominating a cabinet full of super-rich, trickle-down economics ideologues who will cut wages, increase income inequality, and give Wall Street the green light, Trump is retracting his promise to make life better for America’s working people. Trumka went on to say labor must “help draw the contrast between the Trump Republican vision and an agenda that helps working people,” adding that it’s crucial that union members know what’s happening to stop “wholesale destruction within the next four years.”
On the state legislative front and political battles, each state will have its own plan as GOP lead Legislatures begin to convene, with right to work, paycheck deception and prevailing wages already passing in the Kentucky legislature and similar attacks underway in several other states. Trumka said that to win these battles, labor has to come together like never before and that each labor federation and council has to be in the fight aiding their affiliate unions, whether that’s assisting with organizing, communicating with their members, hosting a rally or phone bank to legislators, walking the picket line, or holding trainings. He also urged AFL-CIO bodies to sign up union members and non-member community allies to build labor’s activist base.
Art Pulaski of the California Labor Federation also highlighted the AFL-CIO’s endorsement of Keith Ellison for Chair of the DNC and reminded activists that they needed to reach out to their state and local DNC members and give their support to Ellison, stating that he is “an organizer and believes in building from the ground up and that’s what labor needs right now in the Democratic Party.”
President Trumka asserted that “It’s up to us to explain as a movement how Trump’s choices and policies are a betrayal of working families” and that labor has to bring together the broadest base of working people capable of defeating Trump’s agenda.