Union Workers Should Think Before Supporting Donald Trump

“Make America Great Again.”  The slogan from Donald Trump’s campaign has been embedded into the national psyche for quite a few months.  Now that we are getting closer to the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, let’s delve into what Mr. Trump’s “greatness” may mean for the American worker, especially union members and their families.

Before attaining his media celebrity in the past decade, Mr. Trump was already well known worldwide for developing luxury tower residences mainly in Manhattan.  He also had holdings and interests in casinos, an airline and the now defunct USFL (football league).  While much has been made of his business prowess and also his failures and bankruptcies, not much has been told of his relationships with the workers in his casinos or the tradesmen and women working on his towers.

Mr. Trump has displayed both positive and adversarial relationships with unions.  He has used union tradesman in the building of his New York towers, mainly due to the close relationships he formed with deceased Building and Trades Council President, Ed Malloy. While this has created some employment for the trades, he has also used undocumented workers in the demolition of the old Bonwit Teller Building, which paved the way for TrumpTowers on 5th Avenue.  Members of Local 95 House Wreckers Union filed suit against Trump in Manhattan Federal Court in 1983, when he and a subcontractor used some 200 undocumented laborers from Poland to demolish and clear the site, paid them substandard wages and worked them excessive hours.  

With all Mr. Trump’s bluster about building a wall between Mexico and the United States, it has recently been alleged that he is using non-union, undocumented laborers from Mexico and Central America to build his newest, glitzy tower right in our nation’s capital.

Mr. Trump’s organization also faces charges of harassment and strong-arming his hotel workers who were trying to join the Culinary Workers Union, Local 226, in Las Vegas, Nev.  Although his efforts were unsuccessful, it does give us a window into Donald Trump’s view of the average worker in the United States, especially if that worker is one of Hispanic origin, as are many in his Vegas, Trump International Hotel.  

What many Trump supporters really want is to return to the America of the 1950s.  They long for those halcyon days of the American middle class. In those days, one in three workers belonged to a private sector union, which ensured high wages, good medical benefits, a pension and paid vacation. The 1 percent paid an income tax rate of 70 percent on their highest bracket earnings. And government projects such as interstate highways, bridges and damns kept the nation’s citizens employed, and safe, and was the intention of interstate highways.

If infrastructure economic development, support for unions and higher taxes for the 1 percent is what you seek, then Sen. Bernie Sanders is your candidate. Not Trump.  


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Posted In: Union Matters