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Trump and Labor


Not that you didn’t already know the general direction this was going, but Charlotte Garden has a great overview of where the Trump administration is going on labor issues. I will just quote one sentence to sum up and you can read the rest.

The writing is on the wall: during Trump’s presidency, we are likely to see DOL demand more disclosure from unions and other worker-aligned groups, while giving employers a freer hand to fight union drives.

Yep, pretty much bog standard Republicanism.

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  • But…but those union reps posed for such a pretty picture with Trump.

    • Shantanu Saha

      I dunno. They all looked sorta shell-shocked to me.

      • PeteW

        That seems to happen to a lot of people. The Pope especially.

        • The Pope experienced the Argentine generals. He still seemed taken aback by Trump. But he wasn’t taken in.

        • LeeEsq

          The Pope looked like a good person surrounded by a bunch of evil people but you nevertheless has to be pleasant to them.

          • PeteW

            Sounds like thanksgiving with my wife’s relatives. Come to think of it, I do look like that in pictures.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        Josh Marshall’s “dignity wraiths”

        or, as I thought of it, “that feeling when you realize all there is to trump is what you’ve been seeing on tv”

    • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

      Every time I saw those pics*, I was reminded of the old poker saying:”Look around the table, and if you can’t spot the mark, leave…because you’re the mark.” We may need to amend it to “If Donald Trump is sitting at the table…everyone’s the mark.”

      * including the one with civil rights leaders. Whaddayaknow, today ProPublica has a piece on how DOJ is watering down consent decrees, etc. Shocking, I know.

      • “At best, this administration believes that civil rights enforcement is superfluous and can be easily cut. At worst, it really is part of a systematic agenda to roll back civil rights,” said Vanita Gupta, the former acting head of the DOJ’s civil rights division under President Barack Obama.

        It’s going to take decades to recover from the Trump administration.

        • John Revolta

          “Crap was it in that dusk to be alive, But to be 60 years old was a real fucking treat, I can tell you”

          • Hogan

            +1 Prelude Quaalude

  • Joseph Slater

    There is no better commentator on labor and legal issues than Charlotte Garden. I agree wholeheartedly with what she says here.

  • Stephen Reineccius

    A good friend of mine is working as an engineer at a biotech firm in northern Indiana. She just told me yesterday that HR called every single one of her coworkers in one at a time to give them a 30 minute “warning” about the evils of the unions that might be coming to organize. Perfect timing for this article.

  • CP

    I’m shocked, shocked, that there’s union-busting going on here!

  • ThresherK

    This pic looks sillier than him at the wheel of the tractor-trailer.

    Remember when bad optics mattered to pundits?

    • postmodulator

      Remember when optics mattered to anyone? That’s one of the biggest sea changes we’ve had since late 2015.

      Trump dealing with finances when there’s a clear conflict of interest? Greenwald praising the leakers he likes and criticizing the leakers he doesn’t? Gingrich praising Mueller one week and calling for him to be sacked the next? Matt Lauer giving Trump a bunch of softball questions and treating HRC like she’s wearing a blood-stained coat in a police interrogation room?

      Nobody gives a fuck any more. All that matters is what you have the raw power to do.

      • ThresherK

        (Bad) optics still matter if you’re a Democrat. Now excuse me while I put my feet up on my desk at work.

        • King Goat

          This is true, but the GOP can afford this. Self identified conservatives outnumber self-identified liberals significantly, so the more liberal party, to win, has to have less ideological appeals-like being politically more savvy and competent. It ain’t fair, but politics never promised fairness.

      • cpinva

        “Trump dealing with finances when there’s a clear conflict of interest?”

        now that cracked me up. i’m trying to envision “Trump dealing with finances”, and all I get is static.

    • Rob in CT

      It looks silly to us.

      Other people look at that and get warm fuzzy feelings…

      But we mustn’t call them morons.

      • cpinva

        “But we mustn’t call them morons.”

        is idiots ok then?

    • Colin Day

      Hey, Michael Dukakis remembers when bad optics meant something to voters.

    • The video is even worse. He puts on the hat and pushes out his lips and does the thumbs up, and then he mimes doing some shoveling, like he’s getting ready to do a “Working In The Coal Mine” dance number. He was mocking the people in that room, and they were cheering.

      It’s right up there for me with the several times he literally hugged and kissed a flag and pointed at it with that same “get a load of this piece” expression that he usually saves for pointing at his wife. I’m sure most politicians think their voters are rubes, but Trump gloried in it.

  • Bruce Vail

    The Republican labor agenda is more ambitious than this, although I certainly don’t have any inside information.

    The Senate HELP committee is moving some legislation through, although its hard to say how serious it is.

    All Republicans seem agreed that anything the Obama NLRB did should be reversed.

    • All Republicans seem agreed that anything the Obama NLRB did should be reversed.

      Republicans seem to agree that anything advanced in the last 100 years should be reversed.

      • Shantanu Saha

        A fair number of them seem to think that the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments should be reversed.

        • cpinva

          “A fair number of them seem to think that the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments should be reversed.”

          they think the same thing about those centuries.

    • Cheap Wino

      “All Republicans seem agreed that anything the Obama NLRB did should be reversed.”

      As usual, it’s worse than that. First, you can take the, “NLRB” out of the sentence and it’s still retains all the original accuracy. Second, beyond the overarching policy so well captured in, “More money for us, fuck you,” the GOP is too incompetent to create a working legislative plan. They are fundamentally too damn stupid and ignorant to be legislators.

      The AHCA is a sterling example. Repealing Obamacare has been the #1 GOP issue for years and they have been spewing lies about it in their rhetoric and campaigning the entire time. Yet when faced with the indisputable means to actually act on their “policy” they were laughably unprepared and what was eventually passed in the house is shitty legislation even beyond the downright evil of the outcome. These people suck at the basics of their job. The only thing they have is oppose whatever Obama did.

    • King Goat

      They’d like to get rid of the NLRB altogether.

      • HenryW

        No, they want it around to pursue secondary boycott charges against unions.

  • King Goat

    Labor used to be something that could unite a potential liberal voting bloc. White, black, male, women workers could all get something from pro-labor policy. But along the way we lost the white male part of that. It’s a really concerning thing imo, and I’m not sure what happened and/or how to fix it. Potential ideas, I think, involve when labor embraced affirmative action and when the Democrats started to adhere to more ‘cultural’ positions that turned off the white working class (I’m thinking of ‘gun control’ here, many of these guys find hunting to be a very big deal).

    • Hogan

      when labor embraced affirmative action

      When was that?

    • searcher

      Yeah, no.

      Service unions will probably continue to be a valuable and reliable part of the Democratic coalition for the foreseeable future, but even I saw that trade/manufacturing unions were a weak link, and I’m an idiot. (Granted, I didn’t expect them to split off this election cycle, and I thought the Republicans would have to make some sort of economic overture.)

      The way the balance between the Democratic and Republican coalitions is maintained is that, when one party is ascendant over the other by too large a margin, they inevitably stop appeasing some of their factions (because they don’t need their votes to the same degree) while the other party starts making stronger concessions to draw in a new faction. The coalitions realign until they’re more-or-less balanced because that is how you maintain your bargaining power as a lesser faction.

      I thought if the Democrats had a strong enough showing in this election cycle (sigh…) the Republicans would need to expand their coalition to remain competitive, and the trade/manufacturing unions are the obvious target: a lot of the members tend to be already in the prime Republican demographic (whiter, male, Christian, rural), and some of the unions themselves have a history of only grudgingly expanding their membership to include eg minorities or women. I thought that with relatively minor economic concessions (we’ll union bust 10% less!) the Republicans could bring the trade/manufacturing unions on board, and be the big business/religion/white nationalism/union party.

      So while it came as a surprise to me it happened so soon, and with just Trump’s “fuck NAFTA” rhetoric as far as economic concessions go, I’m not terribly surprised that we’re losing the trade/manufacturing voting bloc.

      I’m not sure it’s coming back; I’m not sure what concessions the Democratic party should be willing to make to regain them. “Gun control” is an idiotic suggestion; a great many other Democrats care deeply about sensible gun control, and as a practical matter no one has actually suggested a level of gun control which interferes with hunting, that’s just NRA bullshit. I’d like to see laws & enforcement which holds overseas manufacturers to the same labor standards as domestic ones (safety, worker conditions), which would both be good in itself (that we import products that are essentially made by child slave labor is morally repugnant) and also help domestic manufacturing, but I don’t know that it would be enough to regain the manufacturing labor vote.

      • King Goat

        “as a practical matter no one has actually suggested a level of gun control which interferes with hunting, that’s just NRA bullshit”

        Politics is to a high percentage perception, it doesn’t have to be true, it just has to work, on a sophist level. If you’re into a hobby where guns are central, you know which party wants to put restrictions on them and which doesn’t (even if the restrictions don’t ultimately seem of much consequence to your hobby).

      • FlipYrWhig

        The Men Who Work With Their Hands vote is the Republican base. It’s not coming back to the Democrats any more than the evangelical vote, once a Democratic demographic that made Carter president, is.

        • King Goat

          That’s…depressing. Because we’ve got a lot to offer those guys.

          • Redwood Rhiadra

            Unless we offer Jim Crow, they don’t care.

            • Morse Code for J

              Ding ding ding!

        • aturner339

          The (White) men who work with their hands. We keep assuming this is about labor and economics and that is quite a leap.

          • FlipYrWhig

            That’s why I was using Scare Caps. It’s a culture-war party that styles itself the home of the hardworking and law-abiding and the foe of the undeserving, shady, and shiftless, wink.

      • Rob in CT

        RE: Gun control – DO a lot of Dems care deeply? That’s the question, for me. It sure looks like gun control support is a mile wide and an inch deep.

        And I’m guilty here – I think tighter restrictions make sense, but it’s also way down my priority list.

        • King Goat

          Same boat: makes sense, not willing to lose an election over it (because very little that’s even on the table will matter).

        • NewishLawyer

          How would you judge this as a metric? I would say gun control is a high priority among people I know especially liberals who live in urban and suburban areas.

          Gun Culture is one of those things that seems largely rural. Friends of mine who grew up in rural areas would tell me that their schools closed on the first day of hunting season. I find that really odd. But in rural America, guns and hunting are ways of life.

          • twbb

            Also a lot of suburbanites who still think of themselves as rural.

        • Woodrowfan

          I know a small handful. Most of my Democratic friends are simply in the realm of “register them, don’t allow guns that enable you to kill a room full of kids in a matter of seconds, and require some sort of safety training and license like you do with a car.” Otherwise they’re like “Want to own 100 guns? fine if you can afford it. keep them secure. like hunting? Fine, be careful and have fun. Target shooting? Cool hobby. Want a gun for protection in your home? Ok, but don’t put it where kids can get it.” I know one, maybe two that are of the “ban them all!” type. Hell, some of my Democratic friends own guns and I’ve gone target shooting with them.

        • twbb

          Yes, gun control doesn’t break my top ten important issues.

      • NewishLawyer

        I don’t see how what you write here disagrees with King Goat and I agree with both of you.

        One of the big issues/cultural divides that seems recurrent but especially focused after the 2016 election is who counts as working class and who doesn’t. Sadly a lot of people in the older blue-collar professions seem to think that the working class must exclude service workers, retail workers, fast-food cooks, etc. There are racist and sexist dimensions to this but also a lot of WWC see retail work as being comfortable. I suppose it is compared to working in a mine or around molten metal but there are still a lot of injuries that can be faced by retail/service/kitchen workers compared to my comfortable office job.

        Trying to build a broad-based labor solidarity campaign where a Teamster or Steelworker or Pipefitter stands in solidarity with an immigrant who cleans hotel rooms or a fast food cook seems Sisyphean as a task.

    • FlipYrWhig

      Labor may have been a Democratic voting bloc, but I really don’t think it was a _liberal_ voting bloc. And the split was over Vietnam and the Civil Rights Act, where big chunks of labor preferred to cast their lot with pro-war and pro-white interests and crack the heads of un-American swishy sex-mad longhairs and uppity darkies. They didn’t like that high-profile Democrats had ties to the counterculture, i.e. to student protestors, women, and people of color, and saw Nixon run on LAW AND ORDER and liked it, and 50 years later, here we are.

      • King Goat

        “but I really don’t think it was a _liberal_ voting bloc”

        The New Deal would like to say ‘hello.’

        • FlipYrWhig

          IANA historian but in short, IMHO and YMMV, the New Deal was more populist than liberal.

          • King Goat

            I hear you, but populism has something to offer liberalism (to the extent we represent an agenda that would benefit a lot of people).

            • FlipYrWhig

              I don’t think elections have been determined by competing economic agendas since the Depression.

        • Rob in CT

          Now we get to argue over the definition of “liberal.”

          Does social democracy mostly reserved for whites = liberalism? Once, it did. Once liberalism was redefined to include non-whites, ruh-roh.

          • King Goat

            Very fair point.

            What’s better, an agenda that draws enough working class whites to ultimately benefit minorities, but whites more, or an agenda that draws too few working class whites to win at all, and results in policy which hurts working class whites and minorities? An ugly choice I grant you.

            • FlipYrWhig

              Maybe the Democratic Party should become an overtly Christian party too, because a lot of people in America are Christians! What’s the downside? :P

              • King Goat

                Oh, I think our party should express a lot more Christian religiosity (it’s cheap and easy, and, as a benefit, often fitting for our policies), ironically for the reasons you mention. Do you think it’s great to lose nobly over and over? I don’t.

                • FlipYrWhig

                  This has already been done, repeatedly, as has giving up on all but the most timorous forms of gun control, and it does not show any spectacular success, because how Republicans win is to nationalize every election and say that the local Democrat may talk a good game but really is in thrall to liberal elitists and people of color.

                • JKTH

                  Of course, Trump won with appeals to his own religiosity.

                • Come on, evangelical support for a godless hedonist like Trump should show that overt religiosity doesn’t really matter. Obama was sincerely devout and spoke about his beliefs regularly and it didn’t make any difference whatsoever.

          • FlipYrWhig

            It’s the Andrew Jackson part of the Democratic Party’s history. People like Jim Webb are still upset that the 21st century version of the party isn’t more in touch with it. But that’s the Republican Party base vote now. There’s not helpful policy or clever rhetoric that’s going to win them back as a bloc. If there were, who would be left voting for Republicans? I really don’t think we’re going to end up with one party that includes manufacturing labor, affluent educated people in the suburbs, students, women, people of color, LGBT people, and public employees.

            • King Goat

              Let’s say we run Jim Webb in 2016. What part of that coalition do we lose, and should we blame them for that? I mean, whose life would be worse under Jim Webb than Trump, and if any of those constituencies can’t see that, shouldn’t they be convinced rather than indulged to more losing efforts?

              • FlipYrWhig

                Maybe next time there could be an intra-party election where we see which candidate more Democrats prefer, and people who support a different candidate can lick their wounds but then work together to beat the common enemy because he is repulsive and destructive. I know, bear with me, it’s a crazy suggestion, because we all know that how it’s really supposed to work is that people should decide to vote for the person that they think other people like based on a mix of current polling and a projection of future polling and future news events extrapolated backwards onto today.

                • Hogan

                  Or, to change the metaphor slightly, professional investment presidential primaries may be likened to those newspaper competitions in which the competitors have to pick out the six prettiest faces from a hundred photographs, the prize being awarded to the competitor whose choice most nearly corresponds to the average preferences of the competitors as a whole; so that each competitor has to pick, not those faces which he himself finds prettiest, but those which he thinks likeliest to catch the fancy of the other competitors, all of whom are looking at the problem from the same point of view. It is not a case of choosing those which, to the best of one’s judgment, are really the prettiest, nor even those which average opinion genuinely thinks the prettiest. We have reached the third degree where we devote our intelligences to anticipating what average opinion expects the average opinion to be. And there are some, I believe, who practise the fourth, fifth and higher degrees.

                • FlipYrWhig

                  Ooh, never saw that one before, nice!

              • JKTH

                So white men who vote against their own interests should be coddled and pandered to on issues that have nothing to do with their economic well-being, while everyone else should be thrown under the bus and then blamed for voting against their own interests.

                That’s…illuminating about your preferences at least.

              • Redwood Rhiadra

                What part of that coalition do we lose, and should we blame them for that?

                Jim Webb is a Confederate sympathizer. He’s made a number of public speeches defending secession, promoting Confederate “gallantry”, and in support of flying the Confederate flag.

                If he is nominated, you lose blacks and minorities. AND RIGHTFULLY SO. You also lose MY vote. Any Democratic Party that nominates a supporter of Confederate treason is not a Democratic Party I can continue to be a member of.

        • NewishLawyer

          See above. The New Deal was passed because FDR and Northern liberals were willing to cast out minorities especially blacks to appease white Southerners.

          • King Goat

            I see your point, but let me ask: were minorities *worse* off, or better under the New Deal?

            • Have you ever heard the term “JAQing off”?


              • King Goat

                I wouldn’t ‘just ask questions’ if I didn’t think the answers were important to understand our current alarming electoral deficit.

          • Woodrowfan

            which is why the black vote switched in 1936 from majority republican to majority Democratic. wait….

      • NewishLawyer

        Walter Reuther was as true a liberal as one can imagine. But others did split over Vietnam and the Counter culture and did not like those long-haired hippies and women telling them to stop catcalling.

      • LeeEsq

        If I’m remembering correctly this is something a myth. Support for the Vietnam War was strongest with the college educated white collar set earlier and longer than it was for working class Americans.

        The split between labor and the counter-culture was probably inevitable even without Vietnam. Center left parties were always something of an uneasy alliance between educated middle class professionals, sometimes with semi-Bohemian tastes, and the economically leftist but not necessarily culturally/socially liberal working class members. The Labour Party in the United Kingdom had a similar split over Roy Jenkin’s Permissive Society legislation during the same time. The Tories had a similar split. There splits between the Old Left and New Left during the 1960s even when they were on complete agreement regarding Vietnam and Western imperialism. See how Theodore Adorno was treated by his young students towards the end of his life.

        • Linnaeus

          If I’m remembering correctly this is something a myth.

          It is something of a myth. See, for example, Penny Lewis’s Hardhats, Hippies, and Hawks, which makes this case.

          • FlipYrWhig

            Fair enough, but it still seems to me that the reason why labor organized and otherwise left the fold of the Democratic Party was because they didn’t like the influence of the counterculture and urban unrest, and Nixon promised to crack down and restore order. This eventually got named “Reagan Democrats.” Then in response Democrats decided to run on efficiency, high-tech, and good government, especially in the New South, which managed to pull square suburban professionals who had been the backbone of the Republican Party into the Democratic fold. I don’t see that swinging back, and I especially don’t see it swinging back on the basis of a policy agenda.

            The Democratic policy agenda has been far more kind and fair to working people of all colors, genders, and sexual identities for a long time now. It’s baked into the cake. Democrats just need to have interesting people as the face of the policies they already have. The problem is that Democrats reward expertise and most people who are experts in things are boring, not cool.

            • Linnaeus

              It’s complicated, to be sure, but I think it’s an overstatement to say that organized labor “left the Democratic fold”. Labor still endorsed, funded, and did ground game work for Democratic candidates at all levels of government and still does now. Even white guys who are union members are still more likely to vote Democratic than their nonunion counterparts – and let’s remember that organized labor has a lot more people of color as members than it once did.

              Likewise, it’s important, IMHO, not to get too comfortable with the shift among suburban professionals, given how long they’ve generally preferred Republican candidates.

      • Linnaeus

        Labor may have been a Democratic voting bloc, but I really don’t think it was a _liberal_ voting bloc

        I suppose it depends on how you’re defining “liberal”.

        • FlipYrWhig


  • DrDick

    This was perfectly predictable from the outset. Trump has always hated unions and has a long record of screwing workers.

    • SatanicPanic

      Yeah it took a lot of willful blindness on the part of white union dudes to not see that.

      • FlipYrWhig

        Do you think they didn’t see it? I’d say instead that they knew perfectly well that Trump was a dick but they hated Hillary Clinton and Black Lives Matter SO MUCH MORE that they figured they had nothing to lose or gain because politics is corrupt and stupid and doesn’t matter, so they might as well stick it to everyone who nags them about being nice people and doing right things.

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