AFL-CIO head: Clinton more receptive to workers than Obama has been

AFL-CIO head: Clinton more receptive to workers than Obama has been
© Greg Nash

The president of the nation's most powerful labor organization said Thursday that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWith VP pick, Biden can't play small ball in a long ball world Hillary Clinton on US leading in coronavirus cases: Trump 'did promise "America First"' Democratic fears rise again as coronavirus pushes Biden to sidelines MORE would be more receptive to workers’ needs as president than President Obama has been.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said that Obama has been “a good president for working people” and praised his selection of Labor Secretary Thomas PerezThomas Edward PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE and other federal and judicial appointments.

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But Trumka said Clinton would be more inclined than Obama to bring unions into the decision-making process.

“[Clinton] will listen a little earlier and a little more carefully than the president did,” said Trumka at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “She is more open to talking to people before decisions are made. Her circle is a little wider than the president’s.”

“I think we will be full partners in rewriting the rules of the economy,” Trumka, sporting a Clinton campaign logo lapel pin, added.

The AFL-CIO endorsed Clinton on June 16 as the former secretary of State pulled away from Democratic primary rival Bernie SandersBernie SandersWith VP pick, Biden can't play small ball in a long ball world Poll: Trump, Biden in dead heat in 2020 matchup Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers, state governors talk coronavirus, stimulus package and resources as pandemic rages on MORE

Clinton’s opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive proposed trade deal backed by the Obama administration but despised by many unions, was integral to earning progressives’ support. 

Though her previous openness to the deal and support of free trade worried liberals, Trumka said he trusts Clinton to oppose the TPP as president.

The chances of passing the TPP are slim. Both Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpWith VP pick, Biden can't play small ball in a long ball world Coronavirus hits defense contractor jobs Wake up America, your country doesn't value your life MORE oppose the deal, while Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanWho should be the Democratic vice presidential candidate? The Pelosi administration It's not populism that's killing America's democracy MORE (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCoronavirus pushes GOP's Biden-Burisma probe to back burner Struggling states warn coronavirus stimulus falls short Hillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike MORE (R-Ky.) say they won’t bring the deal up for a vote.

That hasn’t stopped the Obama administration from pushing ahead and doing all it can to ratify the trade agreement. Trumka, who called the TPP “a new low,” has mobilized the AFL-CIO against it, pitching lawmakers on its flaws and laying out the electoral stakes for those who support the deal.

Trumka said he’s confident the deal is dead but added that the AFL-CIO will still rally opposition to the TPP if support for the deal mounts after the election.

“TPP doesn't have the support of the American people” or Congress, said Trumka. “We’re confident that we have the votes to stop it ... but we will be ready.”

Opposition to trade deals bolstered Sanders’s and Trump’s support among union workers who’ve felt slighted by previous agreements. 

While Trumka said he appreciated Trump’s anti-trade rhetoric, he called him a “fraud” who couldn’t be trusted to follow it with action.

“Donald Trump talking about being opposed to trade deals is almost laughable,” said Trumka. “[Workers] don’t believe him on trade because he does the exact opposite of what should be done,” citing the slew of Trump-branded products manufactured in foreign countries.

Trump supporters and the AFL-CIO share a base of blue-collar support, but Trumka insisted his members would be largely back Clinton. Those who supported Trump, said Trumka, are coming over to Clinton’s side.

“They’re angry, they’re frustrated, and he tapped into that. But he will make things worse because he’s doubling down on the policies that got us here,” said Trumka. “He’s not some sort of economic revolutionary.”