Labor leaders give emotional, working-class pitches for Clinton

Labor leaders give emotional, working-class pitches for Clinton
© Greg Nash

Labor powerhouses are drawing on their blue-collar roots to endorse presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillary Clinton labels Trump coronavirus executive actions a 'stunt' What Trump got wrong by pushing coal Trump is fighting the wrong war MORE on Monday, making a direct pitch to their base to reject Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump suggests some states may 'pay nothing' as part of unemployment plan Trump denies White House asked about adding him to Mount Rushmore Trump, US face pivotal UN vote on Iran MORE.


In nighttime speaking slots Monday night, labor leaders such as AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka urged “working people” to back Clinton instead of the GOP nominee, who has attracted support from some union groups.  

“Working people are strong, and Donald Trump is wrong, wrong, wrong,” Trumka said, specifically citing Clinton's “bold” plan to revitalize manufacturing and infrastructure.

Trumka, who worked in coal mines in rural Pennsylvania to help get through college, also took a dig at Trump’s “fighter” persona.

“I know tough guys. I worked in the mine with tough guys. Donald, you’re no tough guy,” Trumka said, echoing Lloyd Bentsen’s famous putdown of Dan Quayle as his voice raised from the podium. “You’re a phony.”

First-term Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, another champion of the working class, highlighted his family’s background as Irish immigrants.   

He also opened his speech with a strikingly candid story about his struggles with alcoholism over the past two decades.

“My name is Marty Walsh, and I’m an alcoholic,” Walsh said in his thick Boston accent. He recalled how everyone he knew — outside of his family and those in his union — were “losing faith in me” because of his struggle.

He also attacked Trump for hiring workers at his construction sites and deciding not to pay them.

“Are we going to let Donald Trump stiff the working families so he could make more from himself?” Walsh asked an electrified crowd.

“I stand as a living example of Hillary Clinton’s vision for America where everyone gets a fair shot and a second chance to achieve their dreams,” Walsh said.

Clinton has earned endorsements from every major labor group, though some leaders have acknowledged fears about Trump’s appeal to their base.