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Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

The New York Times reports that President Trump's aggressive economic nationalist pitch and "evocation of a lost Industrial Age" is "upending the alliances and tactics of the labor movement..." That's all music to Steve Bannon's ears. Trump's chief strategist has long sought to use economic nationalism to wrench organized labor away from Democrats.

Highlights from the piece:

  • Membership vs leadership: Union heads are struggling to respond to their members who like Trump's rhetoric.
  • The infrastructure meeting: Trump summoned union leaders to the White House three days after inauguration. "It was a substantial meeting about good middle-class jobs," said Terry O'Sullivan, general president of the Laborers' International Union of North America, adding that Mr. Trump was the first president to invite him to the Oval Office.
  • And the projects lined up on it: "Some of Mr. Trump's other early moves, like his presidential memorandums giving the go-ahead to the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines and killing the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, and his announcement that he would quickly seek to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, were clearly conceived with a similar objective."
  • The UAW's Trump flirtation: "Dennis Williams, head of the United Auto Workers union, which endorsed Mrs. Clinton, has professed eagerness to meet with Mr. Trump to discuss how they might undo Nafta and protect American jobs."
  • What about the AFL-CIO? "Many union leaders are at a loss to explain how Richard L. Trumka, the head of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., the nation's pre-eminent labor federation, will navigate these crosscurrents in the coming months...Mr. Trumka's answer for the moment is to proceed gingerly. In an interview, he said that he had a productive meeting with Mr. Trump during the transition, and that the president deserved praise for killing the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. But he has vigorously protested other policies, like Mr. Trump's immigration restrictions."

We shouldn't, however, get too carried away here.

As the Times points out, there are at least two potential legislative actions that could undermine the goodwill Trump is building among unions: 1) A national right-to-work law; 2) Suspending Davis-Bacon Act, which requires prevailing wages for construction workers on government contracts.

Go deeper

5 mins ago - World

Scoop: Jake Sullivan discussed Saudi-Israel normalization with MBS

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg and Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan raised normalization with Israel during his recent meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, three U.S. and Arab sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: Saudi Arabia would be the biggest regional player to sign onto the "Abraham Accords" peace agreement with Israel, and such a major breakthrough would likely convince other Arab and Muslim countries to follow suit.

Tech's leaky world

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Tech companies are learning what everyone in Washington already knows: Leaks of confidential info are inevitable, and "plumbing" operations to close them rarely work.

Why it matters: Most tech firms talk up the power of transparency but prefer to keep details of their operations secret from competitors and the public. Researchers, regulators and the media are increasingly relying on information provided by dissident employees and whistleblowers to see inside companies' workings.

Updated 24 mins ago - Politics & Policy

First look: Harris wants more union membership in fed workforce

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at a virtual town hall with Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) on Oct. 14. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh will today announce new guidelines to encourage federal workers to join unions, according to a White House official.

Why it matters: The Biden administration wants to bolster the collective bargaining power of workers across the country – and they are starting at home, with changes in the federal workforce.