NY Times Wonders How Union Members are Relating to Trump

News & Politics

A new piece in the New York Times indicates that Donald Trump's candidacy is drawing some support from union members. In the article, "Unions Lean Democratic, but Donald Trump Gets Members’ Attention," Noam Scheiber focuses on a growing concern within the labor movement that the allure of Trump might give the GOP a hike in "swing states" like Michigan and Ohio.

Scheiber quotes Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union. "There is deep economic anxiety among our members and the people we’re trying to organize that I believe Donald Trump’s message is tapping into,” Henry said.

The SEIU has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, but many labor organizers and activists are pushing for Bernie Sanders to get the nomination. While the Clinton vs. Sanders debate has engulfed Democratic politics, Scheiber's piece suggests that Trump factors into this argument for some.

Scheiber quotes Ryan Leenders, a member of the International Association of Machinists in Washington state, who voted for Obama in 2008 and wrote in Ron Paul in 2012, but now says a third of his workers support Trump. "We like that he does not support TPP," said Leenders, "that he has taken the position that there should be trade tariffs for a company that moves jobs overseas."

Leenders estimates that about half of his workers support Sanders, despite the fact that the machinists union endorsed Clinton over the summer.

Is there any data to support the anxiety of pro-Clinton labor leaders? The piece cites a Working America study of voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania based on over 1,500 interviews, which found ample support for Trump among working-class Democrats. However, the piece also points out that Matt Morrison, the group’s deputy director, says Trump supporters were receptive to new information that reveals a substantial gap between "words and deeds."

Whatever the numbers, Trump's popularity continues to impact the conversation on policy. As Scheiber writes, "unlike most other Republicans, whose appeal to union voters rarely extends beyond cultural issues like gun rights, Mr. Trump’s economic pronouncements have a greater potential to scramble the standard political calculus."

Read the entire piece at the New York Times website.

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