Donald Trump likes to pretend that he would be the savior of American workers. He has made his opposition to trade deals like NAFTA a central part of his campaign and promised to “bring the jobs back” to America.
But the truth is that few have benefitted more from foreign labor and worker intimidation than Trump himself. A close look at his business past reveals that if a Trump presidency is anything like Trump’s businesses, he’ll sell out American workers and labor laws for the sake of the bottom line.
1. He hires guest workers over Americans.
Back in February, the New York Times reported that out of nearly 300 U.S. residents that have applied for a job at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, only 17 were hired.
Instead, the resort hired hundreds of foreign guest workers from countries like Romania. According to the Department of Labor, Trump’s club has pursued more than 500 work visas for these workers.
When reached by the Times, Trump said that the only reason Americans “wouldn’t get a callback is that they weren’t qualified, for some reason.”
In reality, of course, this is a move to maximize profit. The Department of Labor sets a “prevailing wage” for foreign employees based on the position and location. These workers are restricted to working only for the company that sponsors their legal stay, and can’t leave for better or higher-paying positions without obtaining a new visa.
Trump has also done this at his Virginia vineyard and at his golf resorts in Florida and New Jersey. A Reuters report of Department of Labor data conducted last August found that Trump companies have attempted to import at least 1,100 workers on temporary visas since 2000.
2. Trump products are manufactured outside the U.S.
The Donald J. Trump Collection shirts, eyeglasses, suits, and perfumes are made in Bangladesh, China and other countries that pay low wages.
“Finding the biggest company with the best practices is what was important to him,” Jeff Danzer, who was vice president of a company hired by Trump to broker one of these manufacturing deals, told the Washington Post. “Finding a company that made in America was never something that was specified.”
3. He used his mob connections to minimize costs.
Trump worked with some of New York’s most notorious mobsters in several of his business ventures in order to bypass labor laws and regulations. A Politico investigation looked into Trump’s connections to the mob:
The picture shows that Trump’s career has benefited from a decades-long and largely successful effort to limit and deflect law enforcement investigations into his dealings with top mobsters, organized crime associates, labor fixers, corrupt union leaders, con artists and even a one-time drug trafficker whom Trump retained as the head of his personal helicopter service.
Trump chose to use ready-mix concrete, the more expensive and riskier option than pre-cast concrete or steel girder construction, to build Trump Tower and other projects. Why? Because mobsters Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno and Paul Castellano controlled the ready-mix business in the city, along with the mob-connected Teamsters union involved in delivering and pouring it.
4. He forced undocumented Polish immigrants to work in abusive conditions to build Trump Tower.
According to a lawsuit filed in a Manhattan federal court by House Wreckers Local 95, Trump brought in approximately 200 undocumented Polish workers to demolish the building that occupied the space that would become Trump Tower, in order to avoid regulated working conditions, and to avoid paying unionized American workers pensions and welfare benefits.
Trump claimed he did not know the employees were undocumented immigrants, but the court found this to be a lie. In its 1991 opinion against Trump, the court stated that “Testimony established that Donald Trump visited the 57th Street site and observed Kaszycki’s Polish workers, noting that they were ‘good hard workers.”
The court also found that it would have been unlikely for Trump to not notice the Polish workers, who, unlike union workers, did not wear hard hats.
In addition, Trump surely noticed the “several very visible work stoppages” that the workers staged as a protest “because they were not being paid their wages.”
Yeah. Trump was not satisfied with not paying benefits – he also didn’t pay wages.
5. He tends to not pay people for their services.
A USA Today investigation revealed that at least 60 lawsuits against Trump over the past 30 years involved Americans who did a job for the businessman and were never paid for it. Dozens of tradesmen have alleged that Trump failed to pay them for their labor. Forty-eight waiters and dozens of bartenders and other hourly-workers at different Trump business all across the country have made the same claim. Even some lawyers who defended Trump in court allegedly went unpaid.
Apart from the lawsuits, hundreds of liens have been filed by Trump contractors and employees since the 1980’s, ranging from a $75,000 claim by a New York air conditioning and heating company to a $1 million from a NYC real estate banking firm.
6. Employees of his companies have had to fight to unionize.
Last year, employees of Trump’s Las Vegas hotel took to the streets to ask for better wages and to be allowed to join the Culinary Union. Trump told the press that some of his employees “loved” him so much that they has chosen not to unionize. But protesters denied this claim, and they eventually voted to unionize. In March, Trump’s Las Vegas employees one again took to the streets, claiming that their vote had not been honored and demanding that a contract be negotiated. Employees have claimed that they have faced intimidation by the company’s management as a result of their protests.
Photo: Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump leaves the podium after a speech in Virginia Beach, Virginia U.S. July 11, 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron