North America’s Building Trades Unions met with President Donald J. Trump the other day and the Union Bosses came away from the experience feeling the love. That same day President Trump signed an executive order putting the final nail in the coffin of the Trans Pacific Partnership to the delight of union leaders across the country. Trump promised that together they were going to put a lot of people back to work. He followed that up a day later with executive actions to resuscitate the Keystone XL Pipeline and Dakota Access Pipeline. Could it be the “Great Satan” rank and file union members were warned about is actually a New Deal Rooseveltian in Republican clothing? But wait!
Let’s not forget that he also issued an order for a broad hiring freeze on all federal government jobs. Trump called it a stopgap measure to control the growth of government until his budget director can come up with a plan to reduce the federal workforce. This drew a swift criticism from the American Federation of Government Employees as well as AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. He extends an open hand to one part of the house of labor and a closed fist to the other. Let’s not forget that union density in the United States is greatest in the public sector or that just about every private sector union has bargaining units in the public sector.
In the meantime, we have a Republican congress that has already lined up to shut down a major part of the Democratic Party’s war chest. Even though President Trump gets to chose a Supreme Court nominee, his pick has to get the nod from Congress. Let’s not forget that not too long ago public sector unions dodged a bullet with the untimely death of Justice Antonin Scalia and the resulting 4-4 split on Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. The next SCOTUS case against public employee unions and charging fair share is already in the queue just waiting a ninth justice to break the tie. If you think that ain’t gonna happen then you better turn in your medical marijuana card.
Now this reads a lot like an us versus them in the labor movement, divide and conquer, but yet private and public sector unions understand they need one another to survive or if they don’t then they should read some recent history about what happened in Wisconsin. Getting “Walkered” by the right seems like a given in this political environment. Before the Trades get twitter-pated with the new administration they need to remember the old fable about the scorpion and the frog…the scorpion just couldn’t help it because it was in his nature.
T-Bone Slim – “Wherever you find injustice, the proper form of politeness is attack.”