Editor's Note: The IBEW is reporting from the political conventions. This is the first of several posts over the next two weeks from our on-the-ground perspective in Cleveland and Philadelphia.
From the featured speakers Trump has invited to share his podium to the party’s platform, the GOP remains as unfriendly to working Americans and the labor movement as it has ever been.
No choice more clearly illustrates Trump’s abandonment of working men and women than his weekend announcement of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate.
Over 12 years in Congress and four in the governor’s mansion, Pence has championed right-to-work, led efforts to repeal prevailing wage, opposed increases to the minimum wage and fought expansions to workers’ rights. He has also been a vocal supporter of the Trans Pacific Partnership, the bad trade deal that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump oppose.
“Donald Trump’s choice of Mike Pence is among the most revealing things he’s done in this entire campaign,” said International President Lonnie R. Stephenson. “He may talk a good game on trade, but look at the guy he chose to run with. Few people have been more hostile to labor and working families than Mike Pence.”
While in Congress, Pence voted for every single trade deal ever put before him. He also supported the Bush tax cuts for the super rich. According to the AFL-CIO, Pence voted with working people just 5 percent of the time over the course of his legislative career.
Gov. Scott Walker, who nearly destroyed Wisconsin’s public sector unions by eliminating their ability to collectively bargain, will be a featured speaker on July 20.
Also joining Trump onstage over the four-night event will be anti-union politicians from Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, who signed a bill banning the use of PLAs in 2012. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who will also speak Wednesday, is a vocal supporter of a national right-to-work law, calling it a “fundamental right” during his own run for president in April of this year.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will take to the podium on Tuesday night. In 2015, he likened public sector union members to “pigs” in a speech to business leaders, urging his audience to “meet force with force,” in the fight against labor unions.
Other speakers offer more of the same. Conservative firebrand Laura Ingraham is scheduled to appear on stage Wednesday. The radio host, who reportedly makes $15 million per year, has scoffed at the idea of paying American workers a living wage and mocked the idea of stronger labor unions. She’ll be joined by billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal, who gave $2 million during the 2012 election to the Club for Growth, a conservative organization that regularly antagonizes unions and working class Americans.
The influence of Trump’s supporting cast is reflected most clearly in the GOP’s draft platform, which was adopted Monday night. It calls for Trump and his fellow Republican politicians to bring “labor law into the 21st Century” and rails against the National Labor Relations Board. It includes repealing PLAs and rewriting the Fair Labor Standards Act, which established the 40-hour work week and banned child labor in the 1930s. The platform draft also calls for a national right-to-work law.
“I encourage all of our members to watch not just the words that come out of Donald Trump’s mouth this week, but to watch the people he surrounds himself with,” Stephenson said. “Actions speak louder than words, and the actions of so many of the speakers at the RNC have been aimed squarely at destroying the labor movement in this country. This week’s convention should be eye opening for working people who are concerned about their livelihoods and keeping good-paying jobs right here in America.”
Photo used under a Creative Commons license courtesy of Flickr user Erik Drost.