As a blue-collar worker in a UAW-represented plant, I’m seeing an enthusiasm for a Republican candidate that I have not seen in the 20 years that I have worked at Ford Motor Co. There’s a lot of talk about who will win the labor vote this season. But we have to ask, just who does the term “labor” actually represent when it is used today?
In the 21st Century, labor unions increasingly represent college educated workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015 nearly half of all union members worked for the government. Public sector workers (those paid with your tax dollars) are almost five times more likely to belong to a union than private sector workers. And while unionized workers in Michigan can now refuse to pay union dues, even while working under the terms of a negotiated contract thanks to Right to Work, many feel intimidated and are afraid to exercise that right due to veiled threats from union bosses and some coworkers.
The support that Donald Trump has from union families and blue collar workers may be surprising to some. Two polls cited in the Free Press recently showed that 30% of those who said there is a union member in their household plan to vote for Trump. But you have to look beyond measures of union-represented workers. Today, many blue-collar workers, including some represented by unions that have endorsed Hillary Clinton, are looking to Donald Trump’s candidacy to return the power to them, and bring jobs back to America that left after bad trade deals, including NAFTA.
In an online poll conducted for Bloomberg News, 55% of whites with no more than a high school degree, said they support Trump. In my plant, there are a lot of people who are saying “I’m voting for Trump and I’m not ashamed of it.”
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has supported NAFTA and the TPP in the past, while Donald Trump has promised to re-negotiate NAFTA and to oppose the TPP. Union members like that kind of talk, and that’s why so many of them are breaking with their union bosses to support Donald Trump.