The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Steve Smith, Deputy Director of Public Affairs, 202-805-6720 and Isabel Aldunate, 202-637-5018

Donald Trump’s Catastrophic and Devastating Anti-Labor Track Record

Donald Trump told us in 2016 he would stand with workers. He lied. The difference now is that he has a record he can’t hide from. And that record was catastrophic for workers. Former President Trump spent four years in office weakening unions and working people while pushing tax giveaways to the wealthiest among us. He stacked the courts with judges who want to roll back our rights on the job. He made us less safe at work. He gave big corporations free rein to lower wages and make it harder for workers to stand together in a union.

Trump’s rhetoric doesn’t match reality. Workers in Michigan and around the country know when we’re being sold a bill of goods. We can’t afford another four years of Trump’s corporate agenda to take away our hard-fought gains and destroy our unions.

This week workers will be out in force on the picket lines in Michigan and across the country to support striking autoworkers. We’ll also be calling out Trump’s lies as he attempts to appeal to the very same workers he spent four years in office betraying. In the coming weeks and months, the AFL-CIO and unions across the country will work tirelessly to expose Trump’s record.

With our earliest endorsement ever in June of this year, we’re already having the critical discussions on the ground in battleground states about the issues that matter and the contrast between the presidential candidates on those issues. And given the historic popularity unions have right now, unions are more credible than any other group or even the candidates themselves as these conversations ramp up. As it appears increasingly likely that Trump will be the Republican nominee, we’ll focus even more of our efforts at the worksite and on the doors to exposing Trump’s lies and ensuring that all working people know exactly where he stands on wages, safety, health care, retirement, unions and other issues that matter most.

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, who is on the picket line with workers in Detroit today: “The idea that Donald Trump has ever, or will ever, care about working people is demonstrably false. For his entire time as president, he actively sought to roll back worker protections, wages and the right to join a union at every level. UAW members are on the picket line fighting for fair wages and against the very corporate greed that Donald Trump represents. Working people see through his transparent efforts to reinvent history. We are not buying the lies that Donald Trump is selling. We will continue to support and organize for the causes and candidates that represent our values.”



  • Waged an assault on the economic rights of federal workers, repeatedly undermining their voice on the job:
    • Undermined our merit-based civil service system, granting managers a license to freely discriminate and retaliate against workers.
    • Restricted union representatives’ ability to advocate for their members on the job.
    • Targeted workers’ freedom to negotiate on workplace issues, including reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities, employee training, overtime, telework and flexible work schedules.
    • Revoked the Department of Education’s previously negotiated union contract and illegally imposed an anti-union directive, stripping 3,900 workers of all previously negotiated rights and protections.
    • Stripped away protections for rank-and-file workers at the Department of Veterans Affairs, prompting a 60% rise in firings in the second half of 2017 alone.
    • Repeatedly turned a blind eye to misclassifying up to 30% of workers as independent contractors.
  • Stacked the National Labor Relations Board with union-busting corporate lawyers, denying working people our right to organize through a fair process.
  • Defended “right to work” in a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Janus v. AFSCME Council 31.
  • Rescinded the Department of Labor’s “persuader rule,” which required companies to disclose anti-union legal activities.


  • Trying to rip off tipped workers by implementing a proposal that would probably result in servers doing more nontipped work and at a lower pay rate than previously required.
  • Opposed any increase in the federal minimum wage, denying a desperately needed raise to nearly 40 million workers.
  • Derailed the Department of Labor’s overtime rule, blocking millions of workers from receiving a full paycheck.
  • Undermined the fiduciary rule, potentially costing working people more than one-quarter of our retirement savings.
  • Oversaw a rise in outsourcing, including the highest rate of outsourcing by federal contractors in a decade.
  • Threatened the future of Social Security, chipping away at working people’s retirement security through $26 billion in proposed funding cuts.


  • Promised to protect jobs in the steel industry, but failed to follow through on cracking down on China’s dumping of steel into the U.S. In 2019 alone, more than 16,000 manufacturing workers in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan lost their jobs.
  • Promised to “bring back manufacturing jobs and invest $1 trillion to rebuild U.S. infrastructure in Rust Belt states like Wisconsin.” But in his four years in office, Trump failed to advance any infrastructure legislation.


  • Jammed through a massive tax giveaway for the rich, robbing working people of $1.5 trillion while encouraging corporations to outsource our jobs.
  • Overturned the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s ban on forced arbitration clauses, which had prohibited unfair contracts that force consumers to give up our right to sue.
  • Destroyed key Dodd-Frank protections, placing the financial system at greater risk, exposing homebuyers and students to predatory lending and weakening protections against racial discrimination in credit.
  • Pushed to weaken the rights of shareholders, which would prevent working people and our pension plans from holding corporations and CEOs accountable.


  • Struck an anti-worker trade deal with South Korea, failing to secure key labor and human rights protections.
  • Proposed a 78% cut to the International Labor Affairs Bureau, the federal agency tasked with promoting a fair global playing field for workers.
  • Proposed $400 million budget cuts that would slash the Trade Adjustment Assistance program for those who lose their jobs to imports over the next decade.


  • Targeted Medicare and Medicaid, proposing more than $1 trillion in funding cuts.
  • Championed “Trumpcare,” threatening to rip health coverage away from 24 million Americans.
  • Actively undermined the Affordable Care Act, increasing the number of uninsured Americans by 7 million.
  • Made workplaces more dangerous by rolling back critical federal safety regulations:
    • Cut federal workplace safety inspectors to their lowest level in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) history.
    • Repealed record-keeping rules requiring employers to keep and report accurate injury records.
    • Refused to publicly disclose fatality and injury data reported to OSHA.
    • Loosened requirements for federal contractors, overturning a rule requiring companies to disclose labor violations before being awarded a federal contract.
    • Undermined workers’ voice on the job, withdrawing a policy allowing nonunion workers to participate in safety inspections.
    • Proposed eliminating the U.S. Chemical Safety Board and cutting workplace safety research and training programs.
    • Proposed revoking key child labor protections for teenagers working in the health care industry.
    • Weakened the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s mine safety enforcement, forcing miners to work in hazardous conditions.
    • Halted new rules on styrene, combustible dust, construction noise, infectious diseases, silica and mine safety.
    • Delayed and proposed rolling back the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s chemical risk management rule, leaving workers, the public and first responders in danger.


  • Shut down the federal government for 35 days, forcing about 800,000 federal workers and more than 1 million contract workers to go more than a month without pay.
  • Proposed merging the Education and Labor departments, further attempting to increase privatization and enrich corporations at the expense of working people.
  • Pushed a 21% cut to the Department of Labor’s budget, including a 40% cut in job training and cuts to OSHA’s funding.
  • Made numerous anti-worker appointments to key offices, including Eugene Scalia as secretary of labor, a union-busting corporate lawyer, and nominating Andrew Puzder as secretary of labor, despite his career-long record of disregarding the welfare of working people.
  • William Emanuel and Marvin Kaplan to the National Labor Relations Board, allowing two professional union-busters to make critical rulings on the rights of working people, and many more.

The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) works tirelessly to improve the lives of working people. We are the democratic, voluntary federation of 56 national and international labor unions that represent 12.5 million working men and women.