President Donald Trump sent a strong signal that his administration will shake up politics as usual by meeting with top union officials and key members of the Trump administration for over an hour on his first full business day in office, in a positive meeting that garnered praise from attendees.
Earlier in the day, Trump had also met with business leaders and had also issued executive orders to end multilateral trade deals that Trump says have hurt U.S. workers.
“We are going to stop the ridiculous trade deals that are taking everybody out of our country and taking companies out of our country,” Trump said to the labor leaders, adding: “It’s going to be reversed.”
The meeting focused on union leaders who work in construction trades and was another indication of Trump’s long campaign commitment to rebuild America’s infrastructure. On hand were North America’s Building Trades Unions President Sean McGarvey, Laborers’ International Union of North America President Terry O’Sullivan, SMART sheet metal workers’ union President Joseph Sellers, United Brotherhood of Carpenters President Doug McCarron and Mark McManus, president of the United Association that represents plumbers, pipefitters, welders, and others.
No representatives of controversial public-sector unions such as the SEIU were at the meeting.
Attendees at the union meeting from the Trump administration included Vice President Mike Pence, chief of staff Reince Priebus, counselor Kellyanne Conway, and chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon.
Some of the union leaders in attendance at the meeting with President Trump said they had not been invited to a similar meeting ever at the Obama White House, but Trump refused to single out President Obama alone for criticism, saying the problems for American workers had been building for decades.
The New York Times reports that the union leaders expressed confidence that President Trump was someone they could work with, having done business with him before:
Mr. O’Sullivan was previously the chief executive of the Union Labor Life Insurance Company, and he said that during his tenure there the company invested in some of Mr. Trump’s projects and had a good relationship with him.
Mr. McGarvey said he worked on a Trump project in Atlantic City in the early 1990s and had always been grateful for the work. “It was the middle of a recession; no one had jobs,” he said. “He made investments to expand at the time Trump Plaza. I got that job after being unemployed for six months.”
As Breitbart News reported, earlier in the day, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka had praised President Trump’s moves to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and to reopen negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) deal.
FoxNews reports that syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer praised President Trump’s union leader meeting a “great act of political larceny” for directly going after one of the Democrat party’s sacred cows.