Labor union leader challenged on Biden's promise to create jobs

Biden 'wants to make sure that American jobs stay here' said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

The president of the nation’s labor union was challenged by FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo on Tuesday over statements he made regarding presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden and job creation.

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In a heated exchange on “Mornings with Maria” on Tuesday, Richard Trumka, the president of the more than 12.5 million-member AFL-CIO, claimed that Trump “lost a lot” of jobs and Bartiromo pushed back saying before the coronavirus pandemic “we had probably the best job situation in a generation.”

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Trumka told Bartiromo that Biden “wants to make sure that American jobs stay here.”

“He’s working with us on that. He has an industrial program to create jobs, an infrastructure program to help create jobs here at home and so we’ll work with him to make sure that happens,” Trumka said.

“Joe’s a working guy. He came out of [the] working class. He understands us. He came out of Pennsylvania. He understands what we’re about.”

Trumka added that Biden has “been to our union halls” and “picket lines.”

“We feel comfortable that he’s going to protect American jobs and work with us on all the different policy issues that need to be taken care of, not just a single policy,” Trumka said.

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“It will take a number of policy things to make sure American jobs are here and American manufacturing prospers and thrives again and we’re all for that.”

Bartiromo then said, “Let me push back on that because what did Joe Biden do under the administration when he was with President Obama for the unions?”

She added that for President Trump, jobs “has been his number one issue.”

“Yeah, but he’s lost a lot,” Trumka responded. “If you look at where he’s at right now, doesn’t matter, you can say it’s about the pandemic, but he’s lost jobs.”

“We’ve lost manufacturing jobs, we lost mining jobs, we’ve lost every set of jobs out there,” he continued. “So what I said is he talks about it, but his policy doesn’t match it to make it happen. That’s what we have to do, line up the words with the policies.”

Bartiromo then said, “It actually did happen,” adding that his statements are “not true.”

“It actually did happen before the pandemic. We had probably the best job situation in a generation,” she continued.

Bartiromo then brought up the fact that before the pandemic, the jobless rate was 3.5 percent, the lowest rate since 1969.

“So everything you’re saying is actually missing the mark because right before the coronavirus hit, we actually did have the best economy and jobs market anybody had ever seen. So I have to push back on that because it’s just simply not true,” Bartiromo told Trumka.

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“Please do,” Trumka said in response. “Let me push back on what you’re saying. The jobs being created weren’t manufacturing jobs, they weren’t mining jobs, they were service jobs that paid lower wages.”

“Yes, we had jobs, but we need to raise the wages of those jobs that’s why there’s growing inequality in this country,” he continued.

“Wages were going up,” Bartiromo noted.

“Every year inequality has gotten worse in this country because wages aren’t going up properly,” Trumka hit back.

“No, that’s not true,” Bartiromo said.

“It is true,” Trumka said.

“No, no it’s not,” Bartiromo said, adding that “the statistics are the statistics.”

“Inequality actually began to narrow in the year before the coronavirus,” she said. “We have to call this out. We’ve been talking about this before the coronavirus, this was one of the main issues that we discussed on this program.”

Bartiromo went on to tell Trumka that “The president’s policies have been all about jobs and economic growth and that was certainly playing out before the coronavirus. There’s no doubt about it.”

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Before the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S., Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia told Fox Business that workers’ wages were growing faster than their bosses', narrowing the income gap, as a result of President Trump’s policies.

“At the end of the Obama administration, what we saw is wage growth for the high wage earners [and] slow wage growth for the low wage earners," Scalia told Bartiromo in an exclusive interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January. "We’ve flipped that in this economy.”

Decreasing unemployment and Trump’s reduction of regulations are factors that had contributed to the low-income wage growth, according to Scalia.

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FOX Business’ Megan Henney and Frank Connor contributed to this report.