Photo: AP

Organized labor has the potential to be one of the great forces for equality and sanity in our nation over the next four years. Orrrrrr, they can do what the building trade unions are doing now.

Yesterday, America’s top president Donald J. Trump met with a group of union leaders—a group primarily composed of building trade unions, including laborers, plumbers, metal workers, carpenters, and others—and told them that he wants to pursue some sort of big public-private infrastructure program, which he has said many times before. This sort of government spending would presumably benefit the construction industry. Among the topics that Trump did not discuss with these union leaders:

  • His avowedly anti-union Labor Secretary nominee.
  • His stated support for “right to work” laws that could decimate union membership in America.
  • His tax plan that will primarily benefit the very rich and exacerbate economic inequality, not to mention
  • His statement that American wages are “too high,” or
  • The actual union-busting campaign that his company ran against its workers in Las Vegas.

On balance, you might say that Donald Trump did not address most of the things that should be of concern to America’s workers and their unions. So what was the response of these labor leaders when they emerged from the meeting? They stood in front of television cameras and, like children who had just been dazzled by a behind-the-scenes White House tour, praised the fact that Trump “took the time to take everyone into the Oval Office and show them the seat of power in the world. The respect that the President of the United States just showed us... was nothing short of incredible.” And what happened today? The North American Building Trades Unions put out a statement with the headline “North America’s Building Trades Unions Celebrate Presidential Action to Jumpstart Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipeline Construction”—the final paragraph of which reads: “In politics, there are people of words, and people of deeds. North America’s Building Trades Unions are grateful that President Trump is a man who puts action behind his words.”

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Yeah, you guys are real heroes for throwing your support behind the right wing anti-labor guy as soon as he takes a moment away from plotting to deregulate Wall Street with his cabinet of billionaires in order to toss your specific industry a few jobs. If every labor union in America is willing to fall in line with Donald Trump in exchange for the privilege of getting on their knees and licking the crumbs off his floor, we are in more trouble than we thought.

Don’t forget the part of the slogan that says “Divided We Fall.”