President Donald Trump says labor unions have an open door to his White House, but so far, he’s holding the door a little more ajar for some organizations than others.
Trump has put out the welcome mat for the nation’s construction trades, with whom he’s had relationships during decades of building office towers and hotels. Also invited in have been auto, steel and coal workers who backed him during the 2016 election.
But there’s been no White House invitation for other unions representing the sprawling but shrinking pool of 14.6 million workers who collectively bargain with employers in the labor movement.
“You can tell Congress that America’s building trades and its president are very much united,” Trump told North America’s Building Trade Unions, even as he pledged in the same speech, “America’s labor leaders will always find an open door with Donald Trump.”
But he has not courted all union leaders or advocated for all labor priorities. For example, he’s against a $15-an-hour minimum wage and has let linger a rule expanding overtime pay. Much like President Ronald Reagan did, Trump is not so much pursuing a labor agenda but one that appeals to those who share his “Buy American, Hire American” priorities and happen to be union members.
“Trump is clearly working to be the blue collar president,” said F. Vincent Vernuccio, director of labor policy at the center-right nonprofit Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Michigan. “He’s trying to bring back the Reagan labor coalition and get the Blue Dog Democrats back.”
The White House says the president is “open to meeting with various individuals and groups on how to improve the lives of all Americans.”
But even among unions with most-favored status, there’s some skepticism about whether he’s for workers or just the executives who hire them.
Trump got some boos and hisses during his address to the building trades union. And Chuck Jones, president of United Steelworkers Local 1999, with whom Trump feuded,…