According to a report from POLITICO, President Donald Trump will meet with union leaders at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the status of NAFTA negotiations, the White House said.
Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, will meet with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Teamsters President James Hoffa Jr., United Automobile Workers President Gary Jones, International Association of Machinists President Robert Martinez, and United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard. They’ll be joined by several top White House officials, including chief of staff John Kelly and trade adviser Peter Navarro, deputy White House press secretary Lindsay Walters said.
The U.S. and Mexico have struggled in recent weeks to nail down labor provisions in NAFTA. Negotiators are still figuring out how to make the agreement’s new labor rules enforceable in way that will overcome the Trump administration’s aversion to being bound to trade rules. Unions in both countries argue that wage suppression south of the border is largely the result of workers being threatened or stymied when they try to organize.
Trumka and other labor leaders have praised Trump’s approach on trade, even as they routinely spar with his administration on other issues such as worker safety and union rights for federal workers. Last month, Trumka praised Trump’s threat to hike tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent. The UAW and AFL-CIO have reportedly expressed support for moving forward with tariffs on cars, trucks and automotive parts as well.
“We are meeting with the president to reaffirm what a good deal for working people really looks like,” Trumka said in a written statement, “starting with strong workers’ rights backed up by effective enforcement tools unlike those that have failed in that past and led to the unrelenting outsourcing of work to Mexico, eliminating corporate courts and new rules of origin that are fair to America’s workers. There should be a sunset provision to ensure that these changes work for working people.”
The jobs market may be cooling off slightly.
Per a report on POLITICO, job growth decelerated in June, the government reported Friday, as employers struggled to find qualified workers to fill an abundance of job openings.
The Labor Department reported 213,000 new jobs in June, down from 244,000 in May. The unemployment rate ticked up to 4 percent after falling to 3.8 percent in May.
The tight labor market continued to produce bafflingly weak wage growth, with average hourly earnings up 2.7 percent over the previous year, unchanged from May.
Although government data show there are roughly enough jobs for every person seeking one, experts say businesses are struggling to find qualified applicants.
“That’s the number one issue,” said Dan North, chief economist for Euler Hermes North America. “We’re desperate for labor.”
The labor force participation rate — the share of people actively looking for a job — remained near 63 percent in June, close to its lowest level since the 1970s.
The report came as President Donald Trump was preparing to impose tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese goods, edging toward a full-blown trade war. Business groups worry that Trump’s escalating trade war will pinch GDP growth, which the Commerce Department last week calculated at 2 percent for the first quarter, and boost the unemployment rate.
It’s a worry shared by Federal Reserve policymakers, who in a meeting last month said they were “concerned that such uncertainty and risks eventually could have negative effects,” according to minutes released Thursday.
“It’s just a free-floating anxiety about what the hell is going to happen,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.
Economists had been expecting job growth to slow down after months of strong gains as the economy neared full employment, and although it did, the June numbers still exceeded economists’ expectations. Job growth may continue to decelerate before November midterms elections, but many economists expect wage growth to become more brisk before the end of 2018.
“Wage growth is slowly but steadily accelerating,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.
The National Education Association (NEA) — the nation’s largest labor union — is preparing for a $50 million cut in expenditures over two years and the loss of hundreds of thousands of members as it anticipates losing a closely watched case over fees soon to be decided by the Supreme Court.
Such a cut would mean a roughly 13 percent reduction in expenditures compared to this year, according to the74million.org, an education news website that first reported the teachers union’s projection.
NEA officials confirmed the figures but emphasized the projections are part of conservative budgeting that is preliminary and would be discussed during the union’s annual July Fourth convention in Minneapolis.
The union has more than 3 million members, but estimates its rolls could be reduced by more than 300,000 during a two-year period, the news site reported.
The Supreme Court could issue a verdict any day in Janus v. AFSCME, which challenges the money that public unions such as teachers unions collect from nonmembers to cover their share of collective bargaining costs. It’s widely expected that with conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch on the high court, the ruling will be unfavorable to unions.
The case comes on the heels of another, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, that ended in a 4-4 deadlock following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
The union is preparing for the shift at the same time thousands of teachers in several states have closed schools to protest low wages and cuts in education spending.
Mary E. Kusler, the senior director of NEA’s Center for Advocacy, said in an interview that the budgeting process underway is about realigning the union to focus on priorities, such as ensuring educators’ voices are heard and that they have a right to negotiate. Kusler said other areas of focus include engagement of early career educators and racial justice in schools and communities.
“The untold story here is that our union is solid and we’re solid and getting stronger despite the unprecedented attacks on working people by this special interest behind the Janus decision,” Kusler said.
Already, union officials said about 40 NEA employees retired around Jan. 1 in anticipation of cuts ahead.
“We continue to remain the largest labor union in the country and we’re not done yet. We are creating this budget in a way to invest in the growth and strength of a union that our members need and rely on and we’re not just going to sit around idly to prepare for the future,” Kusler said. “We are going to be proactive and prudent in how we’re moving forward.”
Separately, Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers union, said in a statement that AFT is in the midst of its annual budget process.
“Given our current financial projections and our members’ overwhelming willingness to stick with the union, we will not be proposing any dues increase for this year at our convention this summer,” Weingarten said. “We are confident we have the resources we need to continue to fight for our members and those they serve.”