Labor movement will fight for justice, stand with community partners
By JEFF JOHNSON
(Dec. 5, 2016) — As President-Elect Donald Trump continues to fill out his cabinet, fear and anxiety grows daily in the labor, immigrant rights, LBGTQ, Muslim, African American and environmental communities. While the incoming president does not appear to have a well-defined ideology his appointments do, and it’s not pretty.
One promise I will make to you is that the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO and our labor movement will stand with our community partners and fight back every attempt to roll back our civil liberties and our voices at work and in civil society. Our job continues to be to put out a bold and unyielding vision of social and economic justice for all.
When candidate Trump said he was going to, “Drain the Swamp,” I doubt his supporters figured on him filling the swamp back up with different alligators. But the swamp is getting uglier and more dangerous by the day.
With the appointment of Steve Mnuchin to head up Treasury, Goldman Sachs continues Wall Street’s hold on our economy. Apparently it is okay to rail against Wall Street and the elites on the stump, but in the real world President-Elect Trump once again proves there is a HUGE difference between words and action.
Former Goldman Sachs partner Mnuchin, will play a critical role in shaping the much-promised and extensive corporate tax cuts, new trade deals, changes to Dodd-Frank (including whether the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau continues to exist), the fulfillment of the infrastructure spending program, and whether the U.S. current approaches to Iran and Cuba go forwards or backwards.
These are incredibly important decisions for a person who profited from the purchase of California mortgage lender IndyMac and in the process foreclosed on more than 36,000 homes, dashing the wealth and dreams of so many Americans. This is emblematic of the American nightmare created by Wall Street to bleed wealth from the working class. Bernie Sanders talked about putting people like this in jail, President-Elect Trump decided this type of individual deserved to run the Treasury.
The swamp muck gets deeper with the appointments or considerations of:
● Billionaire Republican donor Betsy DeVos, one of the nation’s leading cheerleaders for school choice and private charter schools, to head the Department of Education.
● Ben Carson to head up Housing and Urban Development for which he has no experience.
● Georgia congressman and doctor Tim Price to head up Health and Human Services. Price is a Tea Party leader who is an outspoken critic of the Affordable Care Act and would like to replace it with age-adjusted tax credits, health savings plans, and association plans. He supports banning federal funds for Planned Parenthood, believes contraception should not be covered under health plans, believes same sex marriage is an abomination, and will work with House Speaker Paul Ryan on block granting Medicaid and privatizing Medicare.
● For Secretary of Labor, three names have been mentioned: Victoria Lipnic, a Republican Commissioner on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, who has suggested that she thinks detailed corporate disclosure on pay data to get at gender and racial pay gaps is a bad idea and that a struggling economy is a reason not to push for leave policies like Family Medical Leave Act; Andrew Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, which owns fast food chain Carl’s Jr. and Hardees. Puzder was a fundraiser for Donald Trump and an opponent of the minimum wage and leave policies. And finally, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
● Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to be the Attorney General — a man who couldn’t even receive Republican Senate support in 1986 for a federal court appointment because of his racist inclinations. If confirmed, Sessions will have a fair amount to say about how our nation handles immigration issues, racial bias, and a possible Muslim registry.
As a labor movement we will double-down on fighting for a just and fair immigration system, defending and expanding the rights of all workers to organize, to receive a fair wage, and to improve conditions on the job. We will continue to fight for anti-detainer policies, keeping the firewall between local law enforcement and federal immigration enforcement, defending our members and community members against assaults/raids through rapid response efforts and organizing efforts against deportations, and identifying places of sanctuary, including our union halls.
Our position on immigration reform is part of our larger commitment to racial and social justice and our refusal to allow divisions in the working class to impede our progress towards shared prosperity and equal justice for all.
As reported by the Southern Poverty Law Center our country has suffered nearly a thousand incidents of hate speech, bigotry, and hate crimes since the election. Bullying in our schools is on the rise and “fact-free” speech too often now passes for truth.
This is a time for us to stand with immigrants, LGBTQ sisters and brothers, women, seniors, Muslims, communities of color, students, Black Lives Matter, climate justice advocates, and Union Sisters and Brothers. We need to build one movement for social, economic, racial, and gender justice.
Our movement must be ready to push back as we move forward.
Jeff Johnson is President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, the largest labor organization in the Evergreen State, representing the interests of more than 600 local unions and approximately 450,000 rank-and-file union members.