MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) - U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday urged New Hampshire workers to embrace the labor movement’s principle of solidarity in response to what he called the “divisive” politics of President Donald Trump.
“We will not allow Trump or anyone else to divide us up by the color of our skin, our religion, our nationality, or our sexual orientation,” Sanders said at a Labor Day breakfast organized by the AFL-CIO. “When they divide us up, they win. When we stand together, we win.”
The independent senator from Vermont and former presidential candidate argued that Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress have lost sight of what the American people want. He cited polls that say most Americans support progressive policies like his, including Medicare for all and a $15 minimum wage.
“We have a president and a Congress who do exactly the opposite,” he told roughly 300 workers and activists at St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral. “They wanted to throw 32 million people off of health care. Our job is to tell them they are on the wrong side of where the American people are.”
And that groundswell against the Republican Party’s platform is growing, he said. A year ago on Labor Day, Sanders came to the same union breakfast to promote his health care and wage policies, which seemed “radical,” he said, even to many Democrats. Now, he noted, his Medicare bill has 30 co-sponsors and communities across the country are raising the minimum wage.
Sanders, who ran second to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, did not mention the 2020 race or whether he planned to join it.
Many of New Hampshire’s leading Democrats attended the union breakfast, including U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan.
Shaheen spoke before Sanders and credited unions with having “built the middle class in America.” She attacked Trump, who she said “cuts taxes for his country club buddies and then denies pay raises for federal workers,” and praised union workers for helping last year to defeat a so-called “right-to-work” bill that would have eliminated mandatory dues for non-union workers in New Hampshire.
“You had a plan, you organized, you worked together, you overcame the incumbent governor, and you defeated right to work in New Hampshire,” Shaheen said.
Shaheen, Sanders and many other speakers on Monday lambasted what they saw as a rightward turn in the federal judiciary, saving special ire for Janus v. AFSCME, the Supreme Court decision from June that curbed labor organizations’ ability to collect dues from non-members who benefit from union bargaining.
Sanders also railed against Trump’s latest Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, calling the judge “anti-worker” and “anti-woman.”
Later on Monday, Sanders was scheduled to return to Vermont for events in White River Junction and Middlebury.
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