New York, NY – “You can’t love your union and love Trump.”
Last week’s Federal Hall rally to save “Scabby The Rat” from the National Labor Relations Board’s [NLRB] bid to stick a pin in him on Staten Island, crystalized the threat to fundamental free speech rights that efforts to ban the union balloon actually represent.
But the demonstration also further called out the person responsible for the virulently anti-union stance the NLRB has assumed since 2016.
“Take this message back because elections have consequences,” Construction & General Building Laborers Local 79 organizer Chaz Rynkiewicz told trade unionists assembled in front of Federal Hall on June 27. “People can give a good speech — Trump can give a good speech [about how] he wants to help the workers in America. But then he went out of his way, looked long and hard to find an anti-union lawyer — this guy made millions of dollars breaking unions — and then Donald Trump appoints him the head of the NLRB. We cannot have that.”
Since taking office, Trump has, indeed, set about packing the NLRB with far right union-busting characters from General Counsel Peter B. Robb on down. With a majority of union busters controlling the federal body, the NLRB has doggedly worked to degrade collective bargaining rights, subvert the ability of unions to collect dues, undermine organizing campaigns, upend overall union activity and stifle labor voices in and outside the workplace.
Fellow organizer Bernard Callegari put an even finer point on it last week in front of “The Birthplace of American Democracy,” stating, “The only thing that is indisputable is our union membership. We have to stop letting ourselves get divided. We have to stand in solidarity. So, it doesn’t matter who you vote for…if they’re against unions — fuck them!”
Trump took the White House in 2016, in part, after garnering “Reagan-like” numbers from union households burned out on tricky trade agreements and neoliberal policies that hurt the working class.
Since then, however, Trump’s virulently anti-union attitudes have been as blatant has his toxic narcissism and outright racism.
“You know any Trumpsters out there — let them know, educate them, they need to know — you can’t love your union and love Trump — you can’t do both,” Rynkiewicz said.
Just this week, The Guardian’s Michael Sainato reported David Cann, director of bargaining for the American Federation of Government Employees [AFGE] saying, “As we’ve been in negotiation with the Trump administration, we’ve seen a level of hostility toward labor unions that is unique and more coordinated from what we’ve seen with other administrations, even Republican administrations that are philosophically opposed to the mission of labor and the empowerment of workers.”
Back at last week’s free speech rally in front of Federal Hall, Assembly Member Micheal Benedetto [D-82nd District] was moved to recall his days helping to organize teachers in the Catholic schools system and making the decision to strike against the “Catholic Church and God.”
“I though about it later and that was incredible,” Assembly Member Benedetto said. “But thinking about it today, I said, for God sakes… if we’re gonna strike against them — we can stand up to that crazy man in the White House and his labor board.”
As Trump parades Bradley armored carriers and M1A1 Abrams Tanks through nation’s capital this 4th of July, Mike Hellstrom, Mason Tenders District Council assistant business manager, urged trade unionists at Federal Hall to recall a line from the old Buffalo Springfield song “For What It’s Worth.”
“If you get out of line, the man come take you away,” Hellstrom recited. “But today in America, they’re making the line so friggin’ narrow that it’s up to every single one of us to push back against the line, brothers and sisters, and make sure that the road to freedom is as wide as possible.”