Government

Ohio Labor Leaders Tout Clinton, Trash Trump

BOARDMAN, Ohio – Ohio labor leaders are confident that as their members and the general public learn where the two major presidential candidates stand on the issues they will choose Hillary Clinton, even those who crossed party lines to cast primary ballots for Donald Trump.

Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga, United Steelworkers District 1 Director Dave McCall and Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council Secretary-Treasurer Dennis Duffey spoke at the Operating Engineers Local 66, District 2 Hall here Friday afternoon.

“What we see this election season is what we typically see every election season,” Burga said. “Once the primary election is behind us, then our members and general public and working people start to really look at the issues and where the candidates stand on what matters most to them,” Burga said.

During the news conference, the labor leaders said their organizations would be going around the state to make sure that working people understand the differences between the Democratic and Republican nominees for president. Their remarks Friday afternoon largely focused on why the GOP candidate, Trump, should not be elected.

“As we have these conversations and simply lay out the facts, lay out the record, what we’re finding is that working people are starting to come over to the Clinton column in large numbers,” Burga said.

“Once people know the real facts, they’ll always make the right decision,” Duffey agreed.

Where Clinton has a specific plan to fund the programs she has proposed, Trump only offers “red meat,” Duffey said. He “talks a good game on trade” and says “a lot of things he thinks voters want to hear in an election season,” but his rhetoric “completely contradicts” how he has lived his life and operated his businesses, he remarked.

For example, while Trump says he wants to crack down on foreign labor violations, his businesses have been cited “dozens of times” by the Department of Labor for violations such as not paying overtime pay for overtime work.

In contrast, Clinton “has spent her life working to improve the health and well being of children, fighting for economic justice, workers rights and promoting American values and ideals around the world,” Duffey said. She  has laid out a “clear and precise economic plan that will create jobs and raise wages by investing in workers.”

The Steelworkers’ McCall said Trump’s economy recovery plan consists of putting a 35% tax on all imports coming into the United States, a proposal he says would only trigger a trade war.

“The American economy is based on trade. We need trade. It needs to be fair trade that needs to be on a level plying field,” he said.

“Today we have to put up with currency manipulation and unfair subsidies from countries like China,” both of which put U.S. companies at a disadvantage, he said. “Secretary Clinton has talked about real enforcement of our trade laws.”

McCall  illustrated his case against the GOP nominee by displaying a pair of Trump-branded items, a tie made in China and a shirt made in Bangladesh. “If he really cared about American workers and making things in America, that’s where those would be made today,” he said.

Trump has argued that he knows the rules and has operated within them, and that because of that he is uniquely qualified to fix them.

“Donald Trump says a lot of things. Here are the facts,” said Burga, holding up the Trump shirt. At one point, the businessman offered a class that described how outsourcing crates jobs in the long run. “We have to go by his own words and his own record, and we don’t buy it for a minute,” he said.

Duffey pointed to another Trump “business model” — the more than 2,000 lawsuits filed against Trump by small contractors. “His business model is to hire you to do his work. When you’re done with your work, he doesn’t pay so you to go to court to get your money,” forcing contractors to accepts “dimes on the dollar” rather than endure a protracted legal battle.

“It’s not a business model that represents the standards of the United States of America,” Duffey said. Clinton’s plan to address the economy includes an infrastructure investment in the trillion-dollar range, he added.

Burga attributed Trump’s appeal to working-class voters to a sense that “the rules of the economy aren’t working for them” and Trump’s rhetoric has a “surface appeal” to those voters.

“Once you scratch the surface and look at the record, it’s a pretty deplorable record when it comes to working people,” he said.

The labor leaders agreed that Vice President Joe Biden, who is scheduled to stump for Clinton in the Mahoning Valley next Thursday, will be an effective surrogate for Clinton here.

Biden has a record, both as a U.S. senator representing Delaware and as vice president, of “standing up for workers’ rights” and the values of the trade union movement, Burga said.

“He’s always been a friend of ours and somebody who talks so people can understand. He talks meat-and-potato issues and has always been a great advocate for working men and women,” McCall said.

“Joe Biden has the ability to communicate with people from all walks of life,” Duffey affirmed.

The Trump campaign did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

Pictured: Labor leaders gather at the Operating Engineers hall on McClurg Road in Boardman Friday for a press event.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.