Trump's Race Remarks, End Of Business Councils 'Last Straw' For Indiana Labor

Aug 16, 2017

President Donald Trump disbanded two of his economic advisory councils, after many members resigned in protest of his response to racist violence.

Trump tweeted Wednesday he was “ending” his Manufacturing Council and Strategic & Policy Forum, all made up of CEOs and other industry and workforce leaders.

Among those who resigned from the manufacturing group before that tweet were national AFL-CIO union president Richard Trumka and his chief of staff.

The CEOs of major Indiana employers U.S. Steel and Arconic also resigned from the council before Trump disbanded it. Others, including CEOs of Caterpillar, Dow, GE, Boeing and Carrier parent company United Technologies had not done so before the President’s tweet.

Indiana AFL-CIO president Brett Voorhies says he had high hopes for the council. He wanted Trumka and others to help Trump fulfill campaign promises about preserving American jobs.

Instead, Voorhies says, they got inaction and distraction. Then, on Tuesday, Trump doubled down on equating the actions of white supremacist protesters with those opposing them.

“It’s ludicrous, it’s ridiculous, and it’s the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Voorhies says. “I just cannot see [that] labor, at least under my watch, in the state of Indiana, can work with such a person.”

Voorhies says labor leaders gave Trump the benefit of the doubt when he was elected. They hoped he’d save more factory jobs like those at Carrier in Indianapolis, and pass policies to prevent outsourcing and ensure healthcare for working people.

They’ve been disappointed so far. Voorhies says now, they’re turning their attention to the 2018 midterm elections, hoping to educate and sway members and others who voted for Trump on what he has and hasn’t really done.

“That’s the message that we need to send out,” Voorhies says. “What is he going to do tomorrow to help you increase your wages? What’s he going to do to make sure that you don’t lose your health care? What is going to happen next, what is his position, what is his policy? Nobody knows.”

Voorhies will join U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) and former Indianapolis United Steelworkers president Chuck Jones at a rally in the state capital Monday. It’s being organized by anti-outsourcing group Good Jobs Nation.