tv AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka Discusses Labor Movement CSPAN August 30, 2019 5:56am-7:00am EDT
in something like evangelicalism or any other faith and use that as a way to get votes, which seems like the worst possible way you can use faith. >> watch book tv every weekend on c-span 2. presidento this event hosted by the christian science monitor. ms. feldman: good morning. i am linda feldman, washington bureau chief of the christian science monitor. our guest today is richard trumka, president of the afl-cio, the nason's largest -- nation's largest federation of labor unions. this is his 11th appearance at the monitor breakfast, so you have become a labor day tradition for us. so, welcome.
first a bit of background. president trump was born and raised in southwestern pennsylvania, where he followed his father and grandfather into the coal mines and worked his way through college and law school. o the coal mines and worked his way through college and law school. he graduated from penn state then received his jd from villanova. upon graduation he joined the legal staff of the united mine workers of america and eventually became president at the age of 33. since 1989, he has been working on the afl-cio executive council and was elected president of the federation and 2009. now for the ground rules. we are on the record here. please, no live blogging or tweeting. no filing of any kind while the breakfast is underway. once the session ends, the embargo is lifted and you can file away. we will end at 10:00. we will email pictures of the breakfast to all of the reporters here as soon as the
breakfast ends. as you know, if you'd like to ask a question, please send me a signal and i will call you as time permits. rumka if you like to , make a brief opening remarks, the floor is yours. >> i can't believe it has been 11 years. good morning and happy early labor day to everyone who is here. as always, i want to thank you and christian science monitor for hosting us. i want to thank each one of you for being here today. i have been in the labor movement for more than 50 years. actually, 52 years. i have never in my lifetime witnessed a moment like this and i have never felt this much energy and determination from working people. i have never seen this movement so driven to take our own future in our own hands.
working people are rising to meet a moment in history because we know something is deeply wrong. our nation is being poisoned by hateful rhetoric and divisive tactics at the highest levels of government. people of color are being scapegoated, minimized, dehumanized, and told to go back where they came from. racist dog whistles have been replaced with megaphones. women are openly degraded and discriminated against. america's welcome mat along the beacon of hope for immigrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers including my own parents is being bulldozed and paved over replaced with the clear message that you are not welcome here. meanwhile, the rich continue to
hoard unprecedented money and power. while people who build the wealth are working harder and longer for less with less dignity in harsher and more dangerous workplaces. in the last 30 years, the top 1% has increased in wealth by $21 trillion. in that same time, the wealth of the bottom percent has decreased by $900 billion. ofare faced with the reality historic inequality and rising bigotry that goes all the way to the top. the labor movement, our labor movement is offering a path forward that is lit by solidarity. in 2017, more than a quarter of a million people joined unions. three quarters of those were below the age of 35.
in 2018, nearly 1000 of our members were elected to public office, ushering in a series of legislativeelated victories in 2019. now, as the labor movement sets to higher than ever in the 2020 presidential election, half of said today they would join a union if they were given a chance. that is more than 60 million people who want the power and security of a union card. american workers are not interested in slivers of change. we are not interested in gestures or tokens. we need action on a scale that will reverse a generation of
corporate government that has rigged our economy to enrich a few powerful interests at the expense of everyone else. trade is a great place to start. president trump's biggest campaign promise was a new nafta. it is a big reason why he won in michigan, wisconsin, and my home state of pennsylvania. yet the proposed replacement still falls short of what we need. we are not looking for tinkering. nafta.rebranded we need to replace it with a pro-worker deal that uses the enormous interest and economic power to uphold the rights and dignity of working people here and across north
america. there is a number of critical issues we have raised and continue to raise, but chief among them is this. the new nafta is simply not enforceable. in particular, mexico has yet to demonstrate that it has the resources and infrastructure to follow through on its promised reforms, and trade without enforcement is a windfall for corporations and a disaster for workers, but if mexico cannot ensure workers' ability to bargain higher wages through unions, the entire deal is a nonstarter. that is why i am announcing today that i will be leading a on wednesday u.s.
to meet personally with president lopez obrador. he has been a friend of the labor movement and i believe he is acting in good faith. i want to share those concerns directly. we need him to show us how mexico will guarantee workers rights to raise wages through democratic unions. , workingoesn't happen people across north america will continue to suffer. at this point i think it has been clear that without the support of the labor movement in the united states, mexico, and canada, the new nafta will meet the same fate as tpp. it is clear that while we cannot fix the rules if we only
fix nafta. in 2019, 2020, and beyond, we have been gauging full-court press for a wide range of economic since the national labor relations act. working people are fighting every day. we are fighting with every ounce of energy we have to reclaim what is rightfully that of the working people. this labor day, we are simply not going to settle for anything less than what workers deserve. having said that, i will be happy to open up questions. the issues that are important to
-- >> at the big labor convention in iowa last week you told the crowd a candidate must be unambiguously pro-worker and prounion to win the endorsement. how do you rank the top five democrats? have bernie sanders making a huge push for labor. buttigieg. >> excited that all the candidates are talking about workers rights and unions. also have urged everyone of those candidates to meet with as many members as we can in as many different forums as we can so they can make their case to
the american worker. any endorsement of a candidate upl come through the bottom from our members to our executive council. our executive council has to in orderrge boat, 70% to endorse anybody. that means you have to have a grand swell of support. see what happens with the candidates and our members. seen those have candidates talk more about the issues that are important to working people then we have seen in the past. people always say, what do you want in a candidate? we want a candidate who wants what workers need. wants whatdidate workers need, we have a chance of getting it.
if they only say the union word when they are in the union candidatese five have supported and have a history of supporting unions over the years, and we will see what case they make on how they intend to change the rules of the economy so they make america work for workers. >> who you think is the best person to beat president trump or is that the labor message. ?hat is your top priority >> it is a workers message and it is a combination of those. if they make the case for changing the rules, they will be able to have success in an election. it is not either/or. it is a combination of both, and the more they talk about changing the rules, and it is
not just trade. it is tax law , health and safety, health care, pension, bankruptcy law that have stripped workers of their pensions over the years. what case they make on all of that, and then our members will say that is the one we want and that is where we will go. >> john from newsmax, right to your right. >> going back to when the afl-cio was formed and a republican secretary of labor, there has always been tension between the president of the afl-cio and republican secretaries of labor. two nights ago, president trump nominated eugene scalia to be secretary of labor. will the afl-cio oppose the nomination actively and if so, why?
scalia wasene in 2002, we actively opposed him. he had a record of being antiunion. since 2002, his record has only gotten worse. he called repetitive injury one time junk science. he made a career of trying to bust unions and do things like that, and as a result, i would say that it is most likely, though not that it is most likely we will continue to him, we opposed him in
2002 and his record has only gotten worse. his views are dangerously outside the mainstream and leave us no choice but to oppose him. >> the buffalo news to your left. >> i wanted to talk to you about labor issues in buffalo of all places. what i would call the starbucks of buffalo, workers voted to unionize. this struck us as somewhat unusual for a small coffee shop, for people to unionize. i was wondering if you are aware of this situation and see it as oppressive for workers to organize even in the smallest of companies? >> it doesn't surprise me at all because it is happening everywhere. people in small, medium-sized, and large unions need the voice
of a union. we are seeing for instance in the airline industry, jetblue organize, spirit airline, customer service agent, united catering, fragile it workers at -- graduate workers at brown, at columbia, at georgetown, at harvard. journalists at the l.a. times, chicago trib, the onion, and vossmagazine, media, they all voted to organize. people all over the country are organizing and here's why. workers do not believe that either the political system for the economic system is working for them, so they have turned to each other and understand the only way they are going to get anything is by joining together and using their collective power. whether you are in a coffee mine, acoal
classroom at college or kindergarten, the only way to get something is to come together and bargain collectively. it surprises me not the least. we have starbucks and other places that are organized. we have different types of things, doctors that are organized, nurses are organized. they organize for multiple different reasons. nurses organize in a number of places to protect patients. staffing was getting so thin they could not do their job. no one would listen to them, so they organized unions to bargain for fair staffing and fair training. that is sort of why i am so excited about this labor day and where we are, because that type of momentum and that type of belief in workers believing in each other is really catching fire all over the country.
>> this particular situation, the three employees trying to organize the union were fired. i think that kind of got the other employees joining. i was wondering, is it more difficult in a smaller environment for workers to come together? >> unfortunately what you just said, is not atypical. it is typical in organizing drive. let me tell you about our antiquated labor laws that were done in 1947. the first one was 1935 and then 1947, and an amendment in 1959. all of which were to take workers rights away. a group of workers want to organize because they want to bargain collectively with their employer. the employer immediately calls what are called union buster firms who specialize in doing nothing but preventing workers from getting a union.
they do these captive audience meetings where they will bring you together. you must come, it is mandatory, and they spend two to three hours talking about how bad unions are. many of them, you are not allowed to speak. one case someone tried to speak, tried to leave, and ended up firing them and the board withheld the firing. they threatened to take away your job. you.ultimately fire when you get fired under today's laws, and it may take you three or four years to get your job back. that means you will have to work somewhere. all of the money that you make gets deducted from what the employer who illegally fired you has to make. it is cheap. the head is on the wall. it says if you dare try to
exercise your right to have a union, i will fire you. you get through all of that and you still vote, sometimes they won't recognize the union. they appeal it for four or five years so you fight in the courts. then when you get recognized, they sit down and say we will negotiate with you. we call it surface bargaining. they mouth empty words with no attempt to reach an agreement. in 50% of the cases, after going through all of that, you end up not being able to get an agreement. that is typical, typical that workers want a voice on the job and typical that the response of an employer is to fire, threaten, and violate the law because there is no effect, no cost for them violating the law.
it costs them virtually nothing. they get to deduct penalties they have to pay. we are trying to get the pro act passed. that would be a rewrite of the law that would put real teeth into those, make an employer who fires someone illegally pay triple damages, three times what they do, just like you do in antitrust. it would do a number of other things as well. it would make it so in first contracts if you come to an impasse, it arbitrates that contract so you get an agreement and you can get going again. that is why the pro action it has over 200 sponsors in the house, 41 sponsors in the senate, and we will keep pushing for it. hopefully we will get it done and when we do, the president will get a chance to sign it and demonstrate his real love for workers.
>> julie pace from the ap to your right. >> i am wondering if you think president trump's strength in 2016 in pennsylvania, michigan, wisconsin has had an impact in the way that democratic candidates are talking about trade, unions, and workers in this election? >> would you mind if i went back and sort of answered that with a little bit more of an expansive answer to give you the framework? i can give you a three word answer but would not really answered the way it is. > harvard did a study on millennials and asked them how important it is to live in a democracy. 30% of millennials said it is important to live in a democracy. 70% said it is not an of those, 24% said it is bad to live in a
democracy. that is the first generation in this country that has lived their entire lives under the rules of globalization. all they have ever seen our wages going down, their parent'' health care taken away, pensions taken away. they probably seen their parents or someone they know lose a home or a household, but then they are told, don't worry, go to school and everything will be hunky-dory. they go to school, come out with a mountain of debt and cannot find a job. they are starting to believe that capitalism is -- equals low wages, insecurity, and poverty. those same workers over three decades have seen stagnant wages and have been attacked in pennsylvania and michigan and wisconsin and west virginia and a number of state. they don't believe the political
system works for them and they don't believe the economic system works for them. along comes donald trump the last time and says, i'm going to change your rules. change the rules so they work for you. people said, i want somebody to change the rules. i am going to give him a chance, so they voted for him. i think the lesson -- getting to your question -- the lesson the democrats, and these candidates have come to understand is unless you talk about the economic issues that affect working people, you are not going to get elected. they have begun talking about the kitchen table economics that
affect workers. the more they do that, the more workers will connect with them and the more support they will get. >> hillary clinton she talked about -- hillary clinton's talkedn would argue she about kitchen table issues and working people. is there something different than desh in the way democrats are talking about it now? >> it is the centerpiece of their campaign. they are trying to change the country to make it better for workers. the economic talks were secondary. now, kitchen table economics are first and foremost and workers are starting to listen. they are having those conversations on the ground in iowa, philadelphia suburbs, pittsburgh, columbus, ohio, all over the country they are having those conversations with workers and workers are listening
. they want somebody who is going to change the rules of the economy to make the country work for workers. we will start to reverse the trend and see more kids say, living in a democracy is important. the fact that there is a potential implosion was just reflected a few days ago by the ceos of the business roundtable. 181 of them came together and signed a new agenda about what is the purpose of a corporation? the purpose of a corporation was to maximize shareholder value, and that helped create the inequality that we see, growing inequality. now they are saying rightfully so, that corporation has an obligation toward workers, the state where they live in and we will see if they translate that
into real action. it may be a pr pitch because of the amount of respect and i guess credibility that the corporate ceos have in this country has diminished dramatically. this could be an election where both candidates are not beholden to them, and who have talked harshly to them. we will see. >> amanda becker from reuters. >> on the 2020 race, as you said, you have a field of candidates talking about issues that are important to the labor movement more than we have in years. do you see any early differentiators between the candidates, what those issues might be? is one of them medicare for all? that is one thing that has emerged dividing the field and some of the candidates not
supporting at say the reason is labor. i was wondering your thoughts on that issue and how important that will be, and if there are any other issues emerging at this point. >> first of all, those issues are going to continue to evolve. we still have, i think a year and some time for that to happen. on the issue of medicare for role, there is no question that ultimately we need to establish a single-payer system, but there has to be a role or hard-fought for the high quality programs we negotiated. you can't ask an american worker who sacrificed wages and everything to simply say, i will accept this plan here whenever i
. >> are they getting into the nitty-gritty. what would you say that now you can negotiate on the other things and don't have to focus on the health plans? >> this is going to continue to they heard that from the members on the ground to it notoing in would probably when theyeffect, but hear it in south carolina and i was named herein in pennsylvania and here it in pennsylvania, michigan, wisconsin and nevada, they start to take he if they are smart. a tone deafre
candidate, you have to be able to understand what people want and try to figure out a way to meet that threat again, i think this is a good sign that candidates are actually listening to what they want. i think it is a positive sign. here.nk you for being have a pitched a solution to the settlement panel it. >> secondly, what specific evidence are you looking or in that guarantee. actually three nowls of enforcement right with the trade agreement.
hasfirst level is mexico for years cap the wages artificially low. and tos been their model do that, they do what is called the protectionist contract. negotiate go in and with employers. let me give you an example of just one of those so you know what i mean. down five they closed plants in the u.s. and two in canada. most modern the bakery in the world. it is massive. they have three wage levels. hour, level $.97 an
$1.28.a dollar 28 -- that was it last year using those protections. 700,000e a minimum of of those protections in mexico and unless those are gone, we will not be able to see wages rise. first that they would change the labor laws and they have done so, however there are almost 1000 challenges lodged by the protectionist case, any in one junction against the enforcement against the new role.
they promised to do that, promised to create a new court system and create a new department of labor to train people and do away with all the contracts and have an election in four years. that means each year, they have to do away with the contracts and hold 175,000 new elections. they are incapable of doing that and they are going to create one and a court system that they promised to do that. if they can't enforce their labor laws, no matter what this agreement says, it will not work because they will continue to and unfairly suck jobs out of the united states and suck capital out of the united states, so the first thing i want to know is what is
the plan? how are you going to do it? resources? the wherewithal and the infrastructure. that is why am going to meet with him. second level of enforcement is the panel block. have something as familiar, when you have a complaint, the first thing you do is conciliation and then you have mediation and then somebody comes in. you don't get an agreement. i appoint a mediator. you have three people that actually make a decision. they have to decide.
it takes eight or nine years without to happen under the old agreement. this agreement allows either party to say, you cannot form the arbitrator. it is essentially any party can stop. the only mechanism you have that forces an agreement when the two parties can't agree. parties can't agree. so it becomes useless. that is level two. we have talked about that, talk about changing that. i think there is probably a likelihood that that can be done. i don't know for sure but i am hopeful. we are pushing that.
we will see. the third level of enforcement is, as it stands right now, i violate the agreement and my products continue to flow like nothing happened, so i continue to buy. as i said, it takes 8, 9 years to get a decision. in those eight or nine years, i continued to violate the agreement and push my product unfairly into your country. we believe you ought to be able to stop the product at the border. if there is a likelihood or good faith that you have violated the act, the product stops at the border before it comes in. and there is precedent for that. the agreement allows that to happen with wood products that are illegally taken, and animal products. our point of view is if it is good enough for trees and animals, it ought to be good enough for people. we want that to stop, so we are working on that as well. there are a couple of other instances -- issues that are important in the agreement as well. medicine, patent rights, creating a north american monopoly for 10 years on drugs so that you cannot even do research on a generic for 10 years in any one of the three countries, is ridiculous. we think that needs to be changed as well.
are working to try to get to yes. if we can, we will. if we don't, we will fight. i think that he will try. i'm going to mexico to see if i cannot try as well, because on all three of the issues it would take at least a reopening for some of the issues. a couple of them. i will help there. if the administration insists on an up or down vote right now, we would oppose it. and i think we would be successful in opposing it. i think the mexican worker would oppose it with us, and i think the canadian worker would oppose it with us. >> mark gruenberg, press associates. >> thank you for talking with us, rich. irrespective of who wins the nomination next year, has the
afl-cio, your political committees started letting plans for what labor's effort is going to be? richard: absolutely, we started a year ago. in 2018, we went through the biggest member to member program we have ever had. i will pull out a few actuals for you so that i don't screw it up. we knocked on 2.3 million doors, we distributed 5 million flyers, we sent out a quarter million texts, 12 million pieces of mail, we did a digital ad campaign that had 69 million impressions, we launched our largest ever media campaign, engaging peoples of color in african-american and spanish-speaking stations, in 26 different media markets, and this time will be even more so.
we went back last year and started pushing our members to talk to their members on a regular basis about issues that are important to them. those we have been successful. our affiliates have talked to their members, moving their members, and their members are then confronting -- i should not say confronting. that sounds wrong. they are asking candidates about their position on different issues that are important to them. and forcing the candidates to think about it, and if they have a position, state it. if they don't, think through it and get a position. that is where we have been largely successful. we will focus on states, focus on the house and senate, and we will focus on targeted states. my director of political action
is here, julie green. after we are done here, if you want to ask her some additional questions, please feel free to. >> several election cycles ago, i cannot remember how many, the afl-cio asked its member unions to kick in an extra assessment for politics. are you planning to do that again? richard: i don't know. we will see what the program is. right now, we have been preparing for this. financially, we are stronger than we have ever been. we are preparing for it and we have a plan. a very synchronized, well effective plan. we have been planning in a way we have never had before, and now we are more coordinated with them. >> how is it that you are stronger financially than ever before given the hits you have taken with so-called right to work laws in some states and
also -- richard: we have grown. that was supposed to be a knockout blow. in fact, i will give you a couple of the figures. aft, i think, was one of our public sectors. grew by 88,500 members. converted 2000 agency payers into full members. we started talking to our members. janice was a wake-up call. there is a weird part of me that says thank you to those who threw that haymaker at us that we were able to deflect. we have started effectively talking to our members and we are growing. we grew a quarter million in 2017. 18 about the same.
19 we will see. we started out, we got some legislative victories that are great. we have the ability to negotiate for 20,000 workers in nevada. the ability to negotiate for 100,000 agricultural workers in new york. organize another 3000 people, loggers. we have been successful with changing those laws to be able to run. the other thing i mentioned in my opening was, we have also, since 2018, focused on running union members, having our own members run. in the last election, we elected almost 1000 union members in 2018. two of them governors, two of them senators, 18 to the house of representatives and 960 some -- whatever it comes out to -- in state senates, house races. that will be beefed up this year.
we have elected 63 more. we have done an inventory of the people we have elected to public office in pennsylvania. we are about 3500 people and counting. we are starting to actually coordinate those people, talk to those people. get them back leg union people. >> tanya snyder, politico. >> thank you. you and your good friends at the u.s. chamber of commerce have been pushing for a long time for increased infrastructure investment. whether we get to a stand-alone bill of any kind, the congress is going to have to put more money into the surface transportation program before the next presidential election. how are you going to change the conversation around increasing
the gas tax or some kind of infrastructure investment? when you been doing the last several years has not borne fruit. how will you get there? richard: we are going to help change the people who have been stopping this. this has been stopped continuously by mitch mcconnell in the senate. everybody agrees with us that you need infrastructure. the society of civil engineers gives us a d in infrastructure, and we are falling. we need about $2 trillion in infrastructure, for the old
stuff to get it up to par, and the new stuff that we need to move ahead. everybody knows that. everybody agrees we need to do it, but it doesn't get done. it doesn't get done because they don't have the will to raise the tax. so we will continue to talk about it publicly, expose what's happening. people are tired of spending hours and hours and hours sitting still because the infrastructure in this country is bad. and they will start to do something about it. we collectively said you need to increase the tax. everybody says that. but they won't do it. so we will see. we will continue to push. >> unseating mitch mcconnell is the plan? richard: if you wrote that, that would be a totally myopic, colossal misrepresentation of what i was saying. that is part of the problem. the problem is they lack the collective will to do what they have to do to do infrastructure. they know what needs to be done, but they won't do it. he is one of the major problems.
if he were replaced, yes, it would be a step forward, unless somebody equally bad replaced him. if we replaced him with somebody who said, we need to do this, let's do it in a bipartisan way, then they cannot shoot us for raising taxes. that is what needs to be done for the betterment of the country. our infrastructure is falling apart. we are getting further and further behind. i don't know if any of you have been to china. sit on one of their trains going 300 miles per hour. it is like you are sitting in a room, and then get on acela and go to philadelphia or new york, where you hold a glass of milk and it ends up being a milkshake. [laughter] that needs to change for the good of the country. it really does. >> to your right, alex from the
spanish news agency fa. >> thank you for organizing this. under the trump administration, the unemployment rate has been pretty low so far, but the weight growth has not met the economic expectations. what is your take on that? our u.s. workers suffering from this situation? from the situation of the wage is not growing as expected, even though there is a very low unemployment rate? secondly, where are you going to mexico with the delegation? who is going with you? richard: who is going with me? i am not sure everybody going with me yet, but it would be members of the executive council, vice president. probably one from the construction trade, one from the public sector trade, one from the industrial sector, or transportation sector, so that we have a broad smattering. we will meet with the president and secretary of labor, secretary of finance, meet with workers down there as well. one of the senators, napoleon
gomez, is a personal friend of mine. we will meet with him as well and with members of the parliament. last quarter, real wages actually fell. last year, wages fell overall, driven by increases in prices of housing and health care. we keep falling further and further behind. that is what you are seeing, the anxiety. that is why you are seeing the collective action where people are trying to change. that is why you are seeing teachers willing to go out on strike, not just for wages, but for things that they need in the classroom for their children. you are seeing other workers, graduate workers who have been taken advantage of for years and years. the unemployment rate, we will see what happens with it. but it does not erase the things that our members and workers across the country believe, that neither the political system or the economic system is working for them.
and the proof is they have been stagnated for years. education is getting further out of reach. they cannot get it anymore because of the cost. so they continue to feel more and more left behind by an economy that has been, i would have to say, a wall street dominated economy, and a government that listens first to wall street. i believe that is starting to change, i think that's good. i think when they start listening to main street more than wall street, i think we will start to make the changes on infrastructure and the other thing that the country needs. >> just a few minutes left, so maybe we can have a lightning round. two from the washington examiner, sean higgins, paul. quickly? >> this election cycle, we have
an unusual and largely unprecedented phenomenon of presidential campaigns themselves getting organized. is this a practical thing given the inherently temporary nature of presidential campaigns? would you support a campaign in the middle of a general election if workers decided to go on strike? richard: i believe every worker should have a voice on the job regardless of where they were. temporary workers are usually the ones abused the most. i think probably what could happen is we could start to negotiate a fair standard for those workers, and then have everyone buy onto it. that could be one additional solution we could have. i have one fidelity. that fidelity is workers. i have that fidelity in the morning, in the afternoon, at night. i had that fidelity in 1965, and i have it today.
>> [indiscernible] richard: could be worse. >> you have not really talked about trump. do you have faith in trump? bouncing off of julie's question, from his side, why can't you go into these states and say on a plumbing is down, the economy is pretty good, i'm trying to do something on nafta. it is a message that i would think would have some residents. richard: that is what he's doing. i think it will not have the effect. i sort of anticipated you might ask me about this, particularly you. see this right here? see this right here? these are all the things that
his administration has done to hurt workers. so when you go into a state and say i am great and you have a minimum-wage worker and he is opposed to every increase to the minimum-wage, you have to say, did he really care about that worker? when his department of labor changed the overtime rules and 2 million people lost overtime -- if you are one of those 2 million people, you have to ask yourself, did he do something to help me? and he took away the fiduciary role, and it cost working people more than a quarter of their retirement savings, by slashing that rule.
ask your self, i lost a quarter of my savings. does he really care about me? when he says he is going to take a couple trillion dollars out of social security and medicare, when he changes the rules and defends right to work laws in the supreme court, all of those things -- i have six pages. of things just like that. while he says i like workers, maybe he doesn't know what his administration, what they are doing in those various departments. maybe he doesn't know what they are doing to hurt workers. but i have to believe that he
knew eugene scalia was not a friend of working people when he named him to the only department that is designed to protect workers and workers rights. right now, there are fewer inspectors in osha than ever in its history. we have never had fewer inspectors. we see more accidents, more injuries, health care, people dying from those things. so you can talk -- he has a case to be made. believe me, i am still doing this. all i'm doing is calling balls and strikes. when he does something good for workers, i say he did something good for workers. when he does something bad for workers, i say he did something bad for workers. unfortunately for workers, there has been more of the latter than the former. i wish that were not true because workers in this country would be much better off if it were not true.
>> [inaudible] richard: at least he had the willingness to take on and change nafta. that was the worst agreement that ever happened, and it needed to be changed. will he get it right? we will see. we are trying to get it right because it is good for workers. >> dimitri from the financial times. >> over the summer you told your members that nancy pelosi was lockstep with you but still urge them to contact with people to measure it stayed that way. have you seen any tangible results? she is coming from some democrats who are in traditionally conservative districts who won in the last cycle to hold a vote this year on usmca the way it is now. are you convinced the democrats will stay together on this, or are you worried there will be a theture as we get closer to primaries?
richard: i think she has done a remarkable job of keeping together a very diverse caucus. i think the democrats will stay in lockstep on trade because it is such an important issue for working people, and they represent working people. on the conservative side and the liberal side, they come together on that issue. 70% of the american public believes those trade agreements, particularly nafta, have been bad for this country. so it is easy to stay together on that. she has done a remarkable job, she has appointed a group of eight people to work with them. the house will do nothing without those eight. they are working hard to get an agreement that is exceptional to working people. we coordinate with them, but i think they are doing an incredible job. those eight people have spent significant amounts of time understanding, talking, and trying to work through issues. >> one more question, mark trumbull, christian science
monitor. >> you have outlined how the labor movement has new energy, greater public opinion of unions. what is the path forward if you want to get america more toward a europe style amount of respect for unions and labor relations? is it mainly through legislation as you have outlined? are there other paths that also need to be taken? richard: there are multiple. i don't remember if i said this or not. gallop came out and put us at 64%, roughly the highest we have been with a year or two exception in 50 years. >> is that approval rating? richard: yes, 64%. yesterday or the day before it came out. we are also working in the
communities to do more. first of all, i will talk the building trade. the building trades are reaching out into our communities, bringing people out, women and people of color, to get into our traits program. giving them a remedial courses were necessary so they can pass the entrance exam, getting them in. we are doing community projects where we are doing housing projects. we are doing different things from our housing investment trust, building investment trust. so it's working with the communities to demonstrate we are them. you probably don't know it but union members are probably coaching your kids, probably on the hierarchy of your school system somewhere. they touch your lives in numerous ways, and so we are trying to figure out, and the do, point out how we do that. we're also doing things in conservation.
we have a group called the union sportsmen alliance that does on the ground projects, rehabilitating state parks, federal parks. we did 100 projects. it took us five years into the first 100, and then 12 months to do the second 100 projects. now we're up and running doing those projects, helping the community, from texas to maine to oregon. we did a project in wyoming. we did a project at yellowstone. it is showing people what we are, our work. we are expanding our systems, our apprenticeship systems into other industries beyond the construction industry. we are working with employers, small employers, midsize employers, to be able to develop apprenticeship programs that will spin out. if they need 10 or 12 people, they cannot do an apprenticeship
program, but we can work with local community colleges to develop that project and a curriculum for them and train workers that they need. so we are reaching out and doing all of that. the labor laws are a big thing, they really are. they really stop people from being able to organize. i told you what happens. believe me when i tell you this. that is not typical in any way. it is exactly what happens everywhere, from the side of the country to the other. let me just say, have a happy labor day. >> thank you so much. see you next year. richard: you bet. >> thank you. >> here is look at our live coverage for friday. the house will hold the pro forma session. at 2:00 p.m. eastern, a
journalist and former white house official examined the relationship between the press and the trump administration. at 4:00 p.m. eastern, congressional observers talk about the 1/16 congress and its congressness -- 116th and its effectiveness. -- at 8:45, an epidemic and substance abuse talk. and then a u.s. pro forma session. a look at the u.s. policy. in one hour, douglas harris and cato institute discuss the 2020 presidential candidates approach to education policy. then at 9:00 a.m., safe and sound schools, michelle gaye, who lost a child in the sandy