The president of the AFL-CIO union federation told Fox News’ Chris Wallace on Sunday that the Trump administration has “done more things to hurt workers” than to help them — comments that elicited angry tweets from President Donald Trump.
Richard Trumka, head of the group that includes 55 different unions, said wages are being swamped by rising health care and housing costs, and that Trump is botching his trade war with China.
Trump has also opposed every effort to increase the minimum wage and has stripped safety standards that used to protect workers, Trumka said.
“I’ve tried to call balls and strikes with him,” he said, referring to Trump. “When he does something that’s good for workers, I say so. When he does something that’s bad for workers, I say so. And I have to say, unfortunately, while he may not even know what his administration is doing, they’ve done more things to hurt workers than they have to help them.”
Trump on Monday morning tweeted his displeasure with Trumka, saying union members should stop paying dues and vote for him in 2020.
In the interview Sunday, Trumka said union voters helped put Trump in the White House.
“He came to our members and said, ‘I’m going to change the rules of the economy,’ and they believed him. And, quite frankly, I wish he would have changed the rules of the economy,” Trumka told Wallace.
“Unfortunately, the rules he’s changing has hurt them. He’s opposed every increase in the minimum wage. He’s changed the regulation to take overtime away from a couple of million people. ... He’s rolled back health and safety standards [for] workers.”
Trumka said “real wages are down” because they’re increasingly being gobbled up by “housing costs and health care.”
“Look, our members are still waiting for the supposed greatness of this economy to reach their kitchen tables,” he said. “When they do, I’ll cheer, they’ll cheer and they’ll all support the person who helped get it there.”
Trumka said the trade regulations are “unenforceable” and that Mexican wages “will suck jobs and capital out of the United States.”
As for China, Trumka said it was good the president had taken on the country, but that he has “done it the wrong way.”
“If you’re going to take on China, it has to be multilateral, it has to address human rights and labor rights violations,” Trumka said. “It has to address currency rebalancing, and it has to have a long-term slant towards good jobs in this country. That’s not been the approach, unfortunately.”
Trumka made many of the same points that farm association leaders have expressed in recent weeks. Roger Johnson, the head of the National Farmers Union, also said last week that Trump should have taken on China as part of a team of allies. Farmers have complained that the China stalemate and other administration policies are hurting their livelihoods.
Check out Trumka’s full interview in the video above.
This story has been updated with Trump’s response.