Richard Trumka was in Tampa Tuesday. The AFL-CIO president made an appearance in front of Sen. Marco Rubio’s Tampa district office, criticizing his stance on Social Security and other issues. Florida is one of seven states the 12-million-plus member labor organization is targeting in this fall’s election, in both the presidential race, and the U.S. Senate race between Rubio and Democrat Patrick Murphy.
FloridaPolitics spoke briefly with Trumka after the rally. His organization has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, but throughout the year there have been reports that more of the rank and file than usual is supporting the Republican presidential nominee. So we asked Trumka if Donald Trump was really making inroads with his members?
Trumka: He has less support at this point in the election than Mitt Romney did. As you know, Mitt Romney didn’t do so well with our members. Our members support Hillary because she has the best plan to do infrastructure, create 10.4 million jobs that will be spent on education, manufacturing, infrastructure, and workforce development. She also understands more than anybody that America can’t be strong and the American economy can’t be strong unless workers and worker unions are strong, and she says that wherever she goes.
But the reason why our workers like her most is she listens. She actually listens to you when you have a point of view. If it’s a valid point of view, she’s wiling to adapt and change policies to make sure that your point of view gets accepted and gets recognized.
FloridaPolitics: How would a Trump victory affect AFL-CIO members?
Trumka: It would make it much much harder for working people to make ends meet. He would tear our country apart, and quite frankly, he’s unfit to be president because of his temperament and all of the things that he’s said: the racism, the bigotry, the sexism. Everything he said. So he’s not going to be president. Hillary Clinton is going to be elected president of the United States.
FloridaPolitics: How will things change if the Senate flips to the Democrats?
Trumka: Lets talk about America, let’s talk about the economy. Let’s talk about the Congress under Republican leadership who’s willing to stop everything that could help and solve our problems. So if we change that, and Mitch McConnell is no longer the head of the Senate but somebody else who’s a Democrat is, then you’ll have a Senate who’s trying to solve problems, trying to create an economy that really works for everybody. And if Hillary Clinton gets elected president, she’ll be there trying to re-write the rules that have been written over the last 40 years to make us lose. She’ll be trying to rewrite those so that we can win and create an economy that really does work for everybody. It’s called shared prosperity. Changing trade law, changing labor laws, changing all the rules that have been written to prevent workers from getting a fair share of the wealth.
FloridaPolitics: Do you agree with what Trump says about NAFTA, calling it the worst trade deal ever?
Trumka: Of course, it was a bad trade deal and I think everybody realizes that. Even Bill Clinton, who signed it, said that.
Let’s not forget something. NAFTA was passed with the Republican leadership and the vast majority of Republicans supporting it. Only a few Democrats and the president supported it, so it was actually a Republican-sponsored bill at that point; people shouldn’t forget that.
FloridaPolitics: What’s the state of the AFL-CIO in the fall of 2016?
Trumka: We’re doing great. We have the most sophisticated program that we’ve ever had, we’re focusing on six or seven states, with Florida being one of our tier-one states. We’ll talk to over a million people in those six or seven states. We have 2.5 million members, about 40 percent of the workers who will vote. And the more we talk to our workers, the more they support Hillary Clinton and Patrick Murphy and candidates down the line.
FloridaPolitics: How much money are you spending on elections this year?
Trumka: I can’t tell you that because we’re divided up on two sides of the firewall, and I’m on the coordinated side, not on the other side.