National Press Club

Trumka calls on Trump to choose workers over Wall Street

April 4, 2017 | By Michelle Amber | mamber99@hotmail.com

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka thanks former NPC President Angela Greiling Keane for the souvenir NPC coffee mug, pointing out that it was made in China, at a National Press Club Luncheon on April 4, 2017.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka thanks former NPC President Angela Greiling Keane for the souvenir NPC coffee mug, pointing out that it was made in China, at a National Press Club Luncheon on April 4, 2017.

Photo/Image: Al Teich

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka April 4 called on President Donald J. Trump to decide who he stands with -— the coal miners and other American workers who he promised to help during his campaign or Wall Street tycoons who “are rigging the economy at our expense.”

Speaking at a National Press Club luncheon, Trumka said, “this decision will be the single greatest test of his presidency.”

“We are closing in on the first 100 days of President Trump’s administration, and two very different factions have emerged," Trumka said. "There is a Wall Street wing that undermines Donald Trump’s promises to workers and a competing wing that could win the progress working people need.”

Trumka is concerned the 'Wall Street Wing' of the White House is starting to hijack the agenda, noting that Trump has already rolled back “important federal regulations that keep us safe on the job.”

Trump's executive orders on immigration “criminalize our workplaces and violate our basic principles," Trumka said.

The AFL-CIO president called on leaders of both parties to pursue an agenda that benefits working people across the nation but also strengthens the right of every American to negotiate for better wages and benefits.

Trumka was speaking on Equal Pay Day, and he said the pay gap between men and women is a symptom of a much larger problem: “our economy is historically out of balance, tilted steeply against working people and in favor of corporations.” In each of the last three years, "corporate profits have reached record highs, yet workers haven’t received a real raise in half a century,” he added.

“We will never solve the problem [of inequality] unless every worker has the power to bargain with his employer. Nothing else raises wages better or more fairly,” Trumka declared.

Noting that current labor law only requires employers to bargain with recognized unions, Trumka said he is “proposing something bold. Every worker, everybody, deserves a job and the power to make it a good job, to bargain for higher wages, safe working conditions and retirement security,” whether you belong to a union or not. While “some might say this is radical, I say it is fundamental," he added.

"When all workers have a say in our pay and working conditions, we will start to close the gap,” Trumka said. "We will lift up more families and communities.”

Before taking office, Trump used his bully pulpit to tell companies to keep jobs in America, Trumka said, but added it’s not enough if the jobs saved have low wages and little voice for the workers. Trump needs to “use his office and influence to call for an end to workplace intimidation, reject 'right to work' once-and-for-all and promote and protect the freedom of every single worker to form or join a union, and bargain for a better life.”

“Tweet that. Fight for that. Accomplish that. That’s how we’ll make America great,” Trumka contended.