September 3, 2018 / 2:18 PM / 2 months ago

On Labor Day, Trump hits back at largest union leader

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Labor Day hit back at Richard Trumka, president of the United States’ largest federation of labour unions, after Trumka said on Sunday that the president’s policies had hurt American workers.

Trumka, who is head of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), said on Fox News of Trump’s policies: “Unfortunately, to date, the things that he’s done to hurt workers outpace what he’s done to help workers.”

The AFL-CIO president cited changes to the tax code that encourage companies to outsource jobs, the administration’s failure to produce an infrastructure program and its overturning of regulations, including some protecting health and safety.

On Monday, the national Labor Day holiday, Trump tweeted that Trumka had represented his union “poorly.”

“Some of the things he said were so against the working men and women of our country, and the success of the U.S. itself, that it is easy to see why unions are doing so poorly,” Trump added.

In follow-up tweets, the president hailed economic growth, adding: “The Worker in America is doing better than ever before!”

A spokesman for Trumka, John Weber, declined to comment on Trump’s tweets.

Trumka had also questioned Trump’s Saturday tweet that there was no need to keep Canada in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The president warned Congress not to meddle with the trade negotiations or he would terminate the trilateral trade pact altogether.

“It’s pretty hard to see how that would work without having Canada in the deal,” Trumka said on Sunday, noting that the economies of Mexico, the United States and Canada were heavily integrated.

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Trumka, who met with Trump alongside other labour leaders last month to talk about trade issues, is a highly influential figure on trade issues and his support will likely be necessary for the passage of any legislation on trade promoted by the administration.

Democrats are working to get union members to vote in the Nov. 6 midterm congressional elections.

Former Vice President Joe Biden marched in a Labor Day parade in Pittsburgh, campaigning on behalf of Democrats. “We’re in a fight for the soul of America,” he said. “It’s about time we restore dignity to work.”

Reporting by Michelle Price; Additional reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Dan Grebler

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