Trump turned yet another official White House event into a campaign rally while union workers were coerced into watching.
Workers beware: If Trump is scheduled to speak at your factory, you may be forced to attend or go without pay.
Last week, Trump gave a speech at a large new Shell petrochemical plant in Pennsylvania. Workers were told their attendance wasn't mandatory; but at the same time, they were told that if they chose not to attend Trump's speech, they wouldn't be paid for work that day. Jobs at the Shell plant are good, well-paying union jobs, and the loss of a day's compensation for these workers was as much as $700.
Workers who did show up that day were there so Trump would have people serving as a backdrop for another of his meandering, grievance-fueled speeches. They had to arrive at 7 a.m. and stand for hours waiting on Trump to show. They stood through the lunch hour and didn't get to eat lunch.
They were also warned not to exercise any free speech in the vicinity of Trump. A memo warned that "[n]o yelling, shouting, protesting or anything viewed as resistance will be tolerated at the event" and that the theme of the event was "to promote goodwill from the unions."
It's easy to pretend union members have goodwill for Trump when they're not allowed to speak at all unless it is to praise him.
This visit was supposed to be an official presidential visit, not a campaign stop. Of course, that's not what happened. Trump railed about the media, slammed Democratic presidential candidates, and bragged about his poll numbers.
He also took credit for the construction of the plant, telling workers, "This would have never happened without me and us." Unsurprisingly, the construction of the Shell plant had actually been announced during the Obama administration.
Trump also told the forcibly assembled employees he would to talk to their union leaders and say, "I hope you’re going to support Trump. If they don’t, vote them the hell out of office because they’re not doing their job." That's pretty far afield from an official White House speech about energy policy.
Meanwhile, the workers were trapped. Trump's speech went past 3 p.m., which was when many of the assembled workers' shifts ended. Some tried to leave early, but Secret Service told them they couldn't leave the warehouse until Trump left. Around 3:30 p.m., some workers began ignoring the edict not to yell, shout, or protest, and began booing because they weren't being let out.
Workers shouldn't be forced to attend what was basically a Trump campaign rally just so that Trump can delude himself into thinking he has massive union support.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.