On Labor Day, Trump Attacks Union Chief Trumka - NBC Connecticut
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On Labor Day, Trump Attacks Union Chief Trumka

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka had said of Trump, "the things that he's done to hurt workers outpace what he's done to help workers"

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    This June 28, 2018, file photo, shows AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka at a news conference at the U.S. Capitol.

    President Donald Trump started his Labor Day with an attack on a top union leader, lashing out after criticism from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

    Trump tweeted Monday that Trumka "represented his union poorly on television this weekend." He added: "It is easy to see why unions are doing so poorly. A Dem!"

    The president's attack came after Trumka appeared on "Fox News Sunday" over the weekend where he said efforts to overhaul the North American Free Trade Agreement should include Canada. Trumka, whose organization is an umbrella group for most unions, said the economies of the United States, Canada and Mexico are "integrated" and "it's pretty hard to see how that would work without having Canada in the deal."

    Trump said Saturday on Twitter that there was "no political necessity" to keep Canada in NAFTA. But it's questionable whether Trump can unilaterally exclude Canada from a deal to replace the three-nation NAFTA agreement, without the approval of Congress. Any such move would likely face lengthy legal and congressional challenges.

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    Trump administration negotiations to keep Canada in the reimagined trade bloc are to resume this week as Washington and Ottawa try to break a deadlock over issues such as Canada's dairy market and U.S. efforts to shield drug companies from generic competition.

    Trump wants to get a trade deal finalized by Dec. 1.

    Trumka also said of Trump: "The things that he's done to hurt workers outpace what he's done to help workers," arguing that Trump has not come through with an infrastructure program and has overturned regulations that "will hurt us on the job."

    Asked about the low unemployment rate and economic growth, Trumka said "those are good, but wages have been down since the first of the year. Gas prices have been up since the first of the year. So, overall, workers aren't doing as well."

    Trumka didn't support Trump for president, but he and other union leaders had seen common ground with the president's populist, pro-worker rhetoric on the campaign trail. Yet their bonhomie faded by August, when Trumka said the faction in the White House that supported union-friendly trade and infrastructure policies turned out to be racist.

    On Monday, Trump touted the economy, saying "Our country is doing better than ever before with unemployment setting record lows." He added, "The Worker in America is doing better than ever before. Celebrate Labor Day!"

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    The unemployment rate of 3.9 percent is not at the best point ever — it is near the lowest in 18 years.