Editor’s Note: The IBEW is reporting from the political conventions. Keep reading over the next two weeks for our on-the-ground perspective in Cleveland and Philadelphia.
Night two of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland was supposed to shift the focus to America’s economy.
“Trump and company had a real opportunity to speak to working men and women in this country on Tuesday night, but they blew it,” said International President Lonnie R. Stephenson.
Instead of sticking to the theme, speaker after speaker raged against presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. House Speaker Paul Ryan was the only elected Republican to offer any policy proposals, but he stuck to his proposed massive tax cuts for corporations and the top 1 percent of earners. Trump’s own plan calls for slashing corporate taxes by more than half, reducing his own income bracket from 39.5 percent to 25 percent.
Despite Trump’s overtures on trade and manufacturing to working class union voters, his party’s platform, adopted during Monday’s session, reveals a party as hostile to working people as it has been for years. Trump himself has said, “I love the right-to-work,” and the Republican platform reflects that, calling for a national right-to-work law.
It calls for challenging “anachronistic labor laws,” and accuses the National Labor Relations Board of “wielding provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act from the 1930s.” The FLSA, of course, enshrined time-and-a-half overtime pay, the 40-hour work week, and enacted most of today’s child labor laws.
In addition, Trump’s party platform encourages the elimination of project labor agreements and rejects the notion of a national minimum wage.
Notably, on one of Trump’s signature issues—trade and the Trans Pacific Partnership—the platform is surprisingly vague. Outright rejection of the TPP was removed from an earlier draft during the document’s planning stages. Both Trump and Clinton say they oppose the deal as it is currently written.
All of this comes as Trump acts out his hostility toward unions in Las Vegas. There, at his Trump International Hotel, the NLRB officially certified roughly 500 workers affiliated with the Culinary Union after Trump and his managers used multiple union-busting tactics to contest the election. But since April, Trump and his managers have continued to stonewall the employees in negotiations toward a first contract.
“I consider Tuesday a real missed opportunity in terms of Trump and the Republicans explaining their plans to ‘Make America Work Again,’” said Fourth District Vice President Kenneth Cooper, whose district includes Ohio, where the GOP convention is being held. “They needed to explain what they’re going to do differently from Democrats to create more jobs and improve the economy, so it’s disappointing the convention totally ignored the issue.”
In reality, while many Americans are still struggling to get by, the economy has created more than 14.8 million new private sector jobs under President Barack Obama, including an unprecedented 75 straight months of job growth.
“We still have members out of work all around the U.S.,” said Stephenson, “so obviously there’s more to do. But compared to where we were in 2008 during the Great Recession, things have improved a lot.”
Photo used under a Creative Commons License courtesy of Disney|ABC Television Group (Flickr)