Donald Trump loves the working class as a mascot, but despises it as a class. The president will gladly take the side of the archetypal working man in his (largely imaginary) conflicts with environmentalists, welfare cheats, immigrants, and liberal elites — but never that of actual working people in their material conflicts with their bosses.
Trump has great affection for coal miners when they’re posing silently behind him, putting a populist face on his plans for inflating their employers’ profits, but feels nothing for them when they die in workplace accidents. He adores factory workers when they’re thanking him for saving their jobs, but hates them when they inform reporters that he actually did not. And he adores union leaders when they ignore this dissonance (for the sake of short-term pragmatism), but hates them when they don’t.
And on Sunday, Richard Trumka didn’t. In an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, the AFL-CIO president said of Trump’s record, “Unfortunately, to date, the things that he has done to hurt workers outpace what he’s done to help workers.” The populist president — who had once promised to transform the GOP into a “workers’ party” — proceeded to spend his Labor Day berating the nation’s largest federation of unions for its ingratitude.
And yet, Trumka’s remarks were actually far too charitable. To say that Trump’s affronts to workers have “outpaced” his aid to them is akin to saying that photons “outpace” snails as they each move across the universe.
Here’s a quick post–Labor Day reminder of 15 things the Trump administration has done to make the U.S. a worse place for ordinary workers.