Donald Trump image by Gage Skidmore
Back in 2011, Donald Trump was stoking the fires for a potential presidential run and gave an interview on New Hampshire's WMUR-TV.
Trump spent most of the interview insisting that if President Obama was re-elected, gas prices were going to go up "five-six-seven dollars a gallon." He was then asked about "right to work" legislation.
Ultimately adopted by twenty-six states—including the Midwestern states of Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, and Wisconsin—right-to-work laws “allow” employees to work without being required to join a union. This weakens unions by allowing workers to benefit from collective bargaining efforts while not paying a penny in union dues and at the same time requiring the union to spend union resources representing them.
Specifically, Trump was asked whether Right to Work was "good for the working man, in the long run?"
Initially Trump responded, succinctly:
"I think right-to-work is a good thing."
But then he went on one of his contradictory Trumpian riffs that we've come to know all too well.
He said nearly all his buildings were union-made and that he’s "always gotten along very well with unions" and "made a lot of money in deals built by unions."
What's the problem then? Trump matter-of-factly explains that a strong union is simply "more expensive" for the employer:
"People are saying we want the costs to come down. We can't afford to be paying people 40-50-60 percent more than what other people are making."
In other words, even though he bragged that he gets along great with unions and has "made a lot of money in deals built by unions," Trump also recognized that, while corporate profits are already at an all-time high, businesses could make even more money by reducing what workers are paid.
Of course, this is way off the rightwing script that insists right-to-work laws raise wages, create more jobs, and make cotton candy fall from the sky.
Last year, during a GOP debate, Trump said he was against raising the minimum wage because:
"Taxes too high, wages too high—we're not going to be able to compete against the world. I hate to say it, but we have to leave it the way it is."
As The Washington Post has documented, Trump has since performed a series of impressively acrobatic flip flops on this issue, first contending that his "wages to high" comment was only about the minimum wage, and then transitioning to his current and much more politically viable stance that he is in favor of raising the minimum wage and doing whatever he can to raise wages overall.
The 2011 video makes Trump’s “wages too high” comment all the more questionable—the minimum wage was no part of that discussion. The only issue discussed was whether he supports union-busting legislation like right-to-work.
And he said he supported for one big reason: It brings down wages.
Jud Lounsbury is a political writer based in Madison Wisconsin.