Donald Trump’s anti-trade rhetoric is textbook hypocrisy

Working people will not be exploited as a talking point for a man offering up our future for his own gain, writes the head of the largest US trade union federation

“Outsourcing Creates Jobs in the Long Run”.

That was the title of a blog written by Donald Trump for his students at the now defunct Trump University. You see, long before Trump made speeches this week in Pennsylvania and Ohio decrying the consequences of unfair trade deals, he was the head cheerleader and a major beneficiary of the policies that have battered America’s manufacturing base for decades. If you want to know Trump’s true position on the current corporate trade model, all you have to do is follow the money.

Trump has consistently sent American jobs overseas to line his own pockets. He personally profited from the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta). Most of his suits, ties and cufflinks are made in China. His dress shirts are made in Bangladesh. His furniture is made in Turkey. Trump talks a good game on trade, but his first and only loyalty is to himself. He embodies everything that is wrong with our current trade policies, from which CEOs thrive and everyday families suffer.

And how about the occasions when he kept his business in America? Time and again, working people got stiffed. Trump has literally failed to pay hundreds of people and companies who have faithfully done work for him. And it’s not just now and then, or long ago. In April, he didn’t pay servers at a Passover event who worked 20 hours straight.

You’ll have to forgive our skepticism that Donald Trump is actually a friend of working people. He said our wages are too high. Really, he did. Trump wants to destroy labor unions. His position on wage-suppressing right-to-work laws is “100%”, and he has routinely moved union jobs to right-to-work states. Trump actually rooted for the collapse of the housing and real estate market. He bet on himself and against America. People lost their homes, their jobs and their life savings. And Donald Trump was cheering all the way to the bank.

Hard-working families in Pennsylvania, Ohio and across America are hungry for a new direction on trade. They are sick and tired of policies that destroy jobs and hold down wages. At the AFL-CIO, we are focused on rewriting the trade rules, the structures that for too long have left our communities poorer and weaker.

This isn’t a matter of whether or not to trade. It’s about what the rules are and who benefits from them. Of course, we should open up new markets for our products and do business all over the world. The real challenge is to advance trade policy that creates shared prosperity. The pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), like Nafta before it, fails that test miserably.

Donald Trump’s anti-trade rhetoric amounts to little more than bandwagon bluster and textbook hypocrisy. He knows the TPP is unpopular in the states he needs to win so he pretends to care about lost jobs and shuttered factories. But Trump has always seen working people as nothing more than a means to an end: labor to be exploited, customers to be bilked and human capital to be used and then discarded. We refuse to sit back and be co-opted as a talking point for a profiteer who has traded away our future for his own personal gain. It’s our job to explain that Donald Trump is not the answer to our trade problems – he is the problem.

  • Richard L Trumka is president of the AFL-CIO, America’s largest union federation


Richard L Trumka

The GuardianTramp

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