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San Diego Building-Trades Activists Protest Trump

April 14, 2017 
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel

San Diego, CA - When President Donald Trump spoke to the national Building Trades legislative conference in Washington April 4, six members of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 569 turned their backs and held up signs saying “Resist.”

“We couldn’t let him come and speak to us and just sit there,” William Stedham, a member of the San Diego-based local’s executive board, told Labor Notes. “If we hadn’t, everyone would think that the Building Trades was on board with him 100 percent, and we’re not.” Audience reactions, he said, ranged from people yelling “Sit down, sit down” to coming up and shaking his hand afterwards, saying, ‘Thank you—that took guts.’” Two of Trump’s appointments particularly provoked the protesters: Geoffrey Burr, a lobbyist for the anti-union Association of Building Contractors, as part of the “beachhead team” at the Department of Labor, and James Sherk, a former Heritage Foundation staffer, as a top White House adviser on labor and economic issues. Sherk has written scores of articles advocating repeal of the federal prevailing-wage law, arguing for laws to ban the union shop, and attacking minimum-wage increases. Trump’s denial of climate change also concerns Local 569, said political director Gretchen Newsom, because “we do a lot of work related to renewable energy,” such as installing solar arrays in the desert east of San Diego. Read more

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