Former Union Leader Unloads on President Trump's Horrendous Labor Secretary Pick
One of Trump's very first meetings as President of the United States was with a group of high-profile union leaders, on January 23.
"This is a group I know well," Trump said at the meeting, which came just weeks after his feud with Indianapolis union president Chuck Jones. Trump's tumultuous relationship with labor advocates would become increasingly pronounced when he nominated fast food CEO Andrew Puzder as Labor Secretary.
"The President's smart at trying to figure out how to drive wedges," Larry Cohen, board chair of Our Revolution and former president of the Communications Workers of America, remarked in an RT America interview.
"But this isn't just about unions," he continued. "This is [about] anyone who cares about the minimum wage, health and safety protection. [Puzder] is a guy [who is] against all the regulation; against everything the Labor Department's done for 80 years, that's who we're bringing in."
Puzder was nominated by Trump on Dec. 8 to serve as Secretary of Labor, but his hearing has been pushed back to February 16—a total of four times. Despite having made more money in a single day ($17,192) than some of his full-time workers make in a year ($15,130), Puzder has staunchly opposed raising the minimum wage. In fact, it's one of several positions that differ from Trump's stated position.
"The Democrats, I think, virtually all will vote 'no'," Cohen predicted in response to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's news conference on Puzder in which he called for the nominee's withdrawal.
"You could not have picked a worse nominee to uphold these goals than Andrew Puzder," Schumer said. "Everything in his career is antithetical to the goals of the Department of Labor."
Cohen agreed, although he admitted that, like other appointments, Puzder's confirmation will depend on a few Republicans voting against the nominee as well.
"Everyone should know it's not a union issue," he pressed. "This is about 'do working people have any protection on the job,' or is just 'my way or the highway' for the employer to this country."
But there are larger labor issues on the horizon.
"The NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) has two vacancies, and this president will get to name, almost immediately, two nominees," revealed Cohen.
"Then the Republicans will have control of the National Labor Relations Board, and we should expect that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will be running it, and that means eliminate collective bargaining rights, even though the preamble of the law says to encourage collective bargaining, so once again we'll be plunging to the bottom of every democracy in the world in terms of what does it mean to go to work in America, whether you have a union or not," he explained.
"There used to be a time in this country when the labor secretary was the most pro-union person on the planet," RT host Ed Schutz pointed out. "This is a 180."
He then asked Cohen what he thought Puzder would do to collective bargaining as Labor Secretary.
"We all know that unions set the bar for wages," the host added.
"The attack is on," Cohen said. "Again, the NLRB piece for collective bargaining will be more serious than the Labor Department. The Labor Department will deregulate work for 420 million Americans, whether they have a union or not, and the NLRB will make it virtually impossible for people to have collective bargaining rights, so it's back to it's back to the 19th century law of the jungle, fighting the new robber barons."
"And if that's what this president wants," he added, "lots of working people will be ready for the fight."