By S.A. Miller – The Washington Times – Thursday, August 29, 2019
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Thursday insisted that union members were not responsible for electing President Trump in 2016, but he promised they would help defeat him in 2020.
He promised an unprecedented mobilization of union workers in 2020, noting that union membership and pro-union sentiment in the country has grown substantially since Mr. Trump took office.
“We are faced with the reality of historic inequality and historic bigotry that goes all the way to the top,” Mr. Trumka said at a breakfast with Washington reporters hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
Mr. Trumka blamed Hillary Clinton’s startling loss in 2016 on her failure to turn out voters, not on union voters crossing party lines to elect Mr. Trump.
Mr. Trump’s support from blue-collar workers helped him put Rust Belt states in the GOP column for the first time in a generation. But Mr. Trumka said his union members were not the deciding factor.
“She had a 20% labor margin in Pennsylvania,” Mr. Trumka said, adding that the low turnout among African Americans for Mrs. Clinton in the state made the difference.
Still, he said the labor movement had redoubled its efforts since then. He described the massive effort by union leadership to better connect with their members and better respond to their concerns.
Mr. Trumka, whose organization is the largest federation of labor unions in the U.S., refused to rank the field of Democratic presidential candidates.
He said they all had learned a lesson from 2016 and were more pointedly addressing workers’ issues.
“I think the lesson these Democrats learned is that unless you talk about the economic issues that affect working people, you are not going to get elected,” he said.
Labor unions have been slow to endorse a presidential candidate in 2020 after criticism that they too quickly got behind Mrs. Clinton last time.
Mr. Trumka said decisions about endorsements would come from the membership or from the ground up. And he said the candidates were being closely scrutinized this time.
The labor movement “sets the bar higher than ever in the 2020 presidential election,” he said.