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AFL-CIO needs to exit Manufacturing Council

It’s better to be at the table then on the menu, but labor is getting eating alive and now is the time to make a move

Kris LaGrange's picture
Aug 15, 2017

Let’s take a look outside right now; riots in the streets, Nazi’s and Klan members mowing down protestors while the world mocks Trump. What the hell is going on people. Donald won with “promises” of jobs and economic prosperity for white men, yet his first year has been marred with scandals, lies and corporate financing of foreign companies. Some labor leaders want to play nice with Trump, inviting him to their conferences and sitting in on his fake councils; but this tact has gotten us nowhere. When will it finally be time to step up to the plate and confront Trump, mobilize our base, educate the easily fooled the good old fashioned way and develop a new base of activist and voters? We need to pave the road to victory in the upcoming mid-terms? The time to do this is now and we need new leadership to help us get it done.

After the events in Charlottesville and Trump’s failure to denounce Nazis, three members of Trump’s Manufacturing Council resigned. Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, Under Armor CEO Kevin Plank and Intel CEO Brian Krzanich all took a stand while facing the possibility of attack and boycott from Trump and his violent bases. While theses CEO’s were willing to take the risk, the AFL-CIO has not. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka still sits on the Manufacturing Council. In a statement he, like anyone else with a Twitter account, called on Trump to denounce the actions of bigotry and said that they are assessing their role on the council. Trumka also said that the council has not met and implied that their membership on the council doesn’t really mean anything. The AFL-CIO should be taking on a leadership role instead of the wait and see approach. The wait and see approach got us Trump, what the hell are we waiting for?

The AFL-CIO blog recently ran a story about the role that union leaders played in helping to end the Birmingham Bus Boycott. Late great union leaders like George Meaney of the AFL-CIO, Walter Reuther of the UAW, David McDonald from the Steelworkers and Michael Quill of the Transport Workers Union; these leaders stepped up and did their part to support Dr. King because it was the right thing to do.  When our core values as a union movement were under attack these unions did what was right. This is the type of leadership we need now.

Since Trump was elected, a National Right to Work law has been proposed, attacks on Davis Bacon are making their way through Congress, a conservative Supreme Court is the deciding vote in eliminating fair share dues, and Trump is stacking the National Labor Relations Board with union busters. When Trump recently attended the North American Building Trades Conference in Washington, DC, he was met with a mixed response.  Immigrant bashing was met with a thunderous applause as thousands of families are being ripped apart. Peaceful, law abiding janitors and church going moms, demonized, terrorized and deported; if you check non-union construction jobs today – those hard working immigrants re still here. Trump fooled this construction base into thinking he would deport them – a move that is both morally shallow, impossible and in most cases illegal. Nothing had changed for the better, and we are still wondering if we should sit on dog and pony committee’s and invite Trump to speak to union membership.

With Nazis comfortably marching in the streets of Right to Work states, judges allowing union organizers to be arrested and Trump propagating hate speech left and right, it is time for a the union movement to step it up. We are all at a critical juncture. Politicians that were bought by corporate interests are relentless and will not stop trying to ban unions Right to Work. Some Local Unions have caved and bargained that they give up their right to collect agency fee’s over a measly raise. Our union family and community value system is in jeopardy. Are we hitting rock bottom? Is this the end of collective bargaining as we know it?

Our leaders in Washington need to stop begging for scraps and start fighting for what we deserve. We need to be inspired and led, we need to share in a new vision. The bad guys, other side is already doing it, we need to counter. We need to make a stand. The AFL-CIO needs to step away from Trump’s manufacturing committee and this needs to happen now.  

Our next move after that should be left up to our new leaders.


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