Ray Waldron: We won’t win in 2020 without working together

Ray Waldron served as president of the Minnesota AFL-CIO from 2001 to 2009.

I’m worried Donald Trump will win another term in the White House, and I know I’m not the only one.

Nearly 20 Democrats are seeking the party’s nomination to run against Trump next year. My preferred candidate probably isn’t your preferred candidate. Your candidate probably isn’t your neighbor’s, your coworker’s or your best friend’s candidate.

Many of us who have been active in politics and in the labor movement have seen this script play out before. While Republicans fall in line behind President Trump, his opponents and their supporters are arguing amongst themselves. It appears this primary fight will drag on for months, creating the potential for fractures that may carry over into the general election.

Our inability to unite in opposition to this incumbent is a liability. I’m worried that if we spend too much energy fighting each other, we will give President Trump a clear run at four more years in office.

And we can’t afford four more years of Donald Trump.

This president has been a disaster for working people. His signature achievement, the tax cut passed in December 2017, was a windfall for corporations and the super rich. Already, it’s pushed income inequality to a 50-year high and increased our national debt, putting Social Security and Medicare – investments American workers and their families count on – at risk.

Meanwhile, Trump appointees in the Department of Labor are rolling back regulations that protect working people from wage theft and other abuses. They succeeded in blocking a rule issued by the Obama administration expanding overtime pay to more Americans. And the number of inspectors at the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has steadily fallen since President Trump took office, reaching its lowest level ever.

Just a month ago the Republican-controlled Senate appointed a new labor secretary who, throughout his career, has been a hired gun for corporations and industry groups looking to dismantle protections for working people. He’s put the fox in charge of the henhouse.

It’s frightening to imagine what this administration might “accomplish” with another term.

We know that in 2016 many working people bought into Trump’s sales pitch. But the president seems to have forgotten promises he made during that campaign, like a $1 trillion infrastructure investment or a $10 federal minimum wage.

And as for that newly renegotiated trade agreement with Mexico and Canada? It’s just NAFTA with a different name, giving a green light to corporations looking to outsource American jobs, but without strong, enforceable labor standards to ensure a level playing field for workers.

As the 2020 election approaches, we can expect President Trump to gloss over his failures with lies, Twitter insults and divisive rhetoric. Given the loyalty of his base and the deep pockets of his donors, it would be foolish to underestimate Trump’s chances at reelection.

But as we saw in the midterm elections last year, our base is energized to fight back, and polling shows most Americans are growing tired of Trump’s act. We can win back the White House in 2020, but only if we’re united in our purpose and committed to doing the work.

Whatever our differences, as union members and retirees we share a common interest in removing Trump from office. Whether you’re a millennial or a retiree, whether you live in the city or a small town, whether you work with your hands or at a computer – that common interest is greater than the things that divide us.

Let’s remember that as the field of Democratic presidential nominees narrows down over the next few months. Permanent fractures in our unity only serve this president’s interests. We may not agree now, but after the process plays out, we’ve got to unite behind one candidate. Whoever that turns out to be is surely a better choice for working people than Trump.

– Ray Waldron is a retired member of Local 96 of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Trades. He served as president of the state’s largest labor federation, the Minnesota AFL-CIO, from 2001 to 2009.


  1. mark gruenberg says:




%d bloggers like this: