The New York Times notes the growing worry among unions’ far-left progressive leaders that their rank-and-file members may back the GOP’s populist, pro-American candidate, Donald Trump.
WASHINGTON — Of all the voters who might be expected to resist the charms of Donald J. Trump, the two million members of the Service Employees International Union would most likely be near the top of the list.
The union, which endorsed Hillary Clinton in November, is widely regarded as one of the more progressive in the labor movement. It skews female and racially diverse — roughly the opposite of a Trump rally, in other words.
But the union’s president, Mary Kay Henry, acknowledged that Mr. Trump holds appeal even for some of her members. “There is deep economic anxiety among our members and the people we’re trying to organize that I believe Donald Trump’s message is tapping into,” Ms. Henry said.
In expressing her concern, Ms. Henry reflected a different form of anxiety that is weighing on some union leaders and Democratic operatives: their fear that Mr. Trump, if not effectively countered, may draw an unusually large number of union voters in a possible general election matchup. This could, in turn, bolster Republicans in swing states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, all of which President Obama won twice.
The source of the attraction to Mr. Trump, say union members and leaders, is manifold: the candidate’s unapologetically populist positions on certain economic issues, particularly trade; a frustration with the impotence of conventional politicians; and above all, a sense that he rejects the norms of Washington discourse.
“They feel he’s the one guy who’s saying what’s on people’s minds,” Thomas Hanify, the president of the Indiana state firefighters union, said of his rank and file.”