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Organized Labor’s Plan To Derail Donald Trump

Published Sunday, March 13, 2016
by Kelsey Snell/

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – National AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka thought he’d have a pretty simple job in 2016: turn out his 12.7 million Union Members to support the Democratic presidential nominee.  But it turns out Trumka’s task may be very different and perhaps more difficult: preventing a significant share of Union Households - which typically favor Democrats in elections - from defecting to Donald Trump if he’s the GOP standard-bearer.

“If ‘left unattended,’ the ‘anger and the frustration’ (Trump has) ‘tapped into will carry the day,’” Trumka warned last week in an interview with The Washington Post. “But when you give Working-Class People the ‘facts,’ I think he ‘falls apart.’  He’s a ‘house of cards.’”

Trumka has an anti-Trump plan, the first parts of which will roll out this week: educate voters about what he says is Trump’s history of Anti-Worker, Anti-Union Policies. 

That campaign - on which he would not put a price tag, but Unions spent more than $9.3 million in the 2012 presidential race - will eventually evolve into uniting Labor Voters behind a Democratic candidate.

The campaign will be focused on grassroots contact with Union Members and potential Democrats to argue Trump wants to cut Workers’ wages and that his immigration and Unionization policies would leave them worse off than they are today.

Trumka said Unions plans to work directly with activist groups, like the growing movement for a $15 Minimum Wage, that have already had success driving people to rally and vote.

“We’ll have literally millions of phone calls, leaflets, door knocks, rallies and seminars,” Trumka said.

Labor groups have fallen behind conservatives in recent years in driving voters to the polls when it counts and they’ve also had a difficult time keeping those they do elect loyal.

“We’ve allowed ourselves to be beat - year after year after year,” Trumka admitted.

Trump is not the National AFL-CIO’s only target.

After years of declining membership and shrinking influence, the Nation’s Largest Labor Union and a network of other progressive groups plan to play in key races across the country.

The group intends to focus time, energy and money on five to seven states, which could include Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Nevada, Wisconsin and Missouri.

All of those states have strong Labor presence and are home to competitive Senate battles in November.

The typically reliable Democratic Union Vote has been torn this year with Members mainly divided between Trump, Senator Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

The surprising results have many questioning the conventional wisdom that an establishment Democrat like Clinton should dominate in Working-Class, Union Enclaves that cluster in and around the cities and suburbs of the Midwest.

The AFL-CIO has been doing its research and it is clear that Trump is a credible threat. 

Trumka said he believes even the voters who have cast ballots for Trump are still winnable for Labor.

He said the AFL-CIO has been doing near-daily polling, testing out different messages and angles for convincing Trump supporters to return to the Democratic fold.  

“When you go in and ‘tell them the truth,’ you’ve got a ‘yardstick to measure,’” he said. “It’s like focus groups almost.”

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