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May 21 2011

AFL-CIO President Lays It On The Line

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

The president of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, gave an hour long speech before the National Press Club that sent a message the Democratic Party that if candidates for office want union members votes and money, they had better start standing up for labor and mean it:

“It doesn’t matter if candidates and parties are controlling the wrecking ball or simply standing aside to let it happen,” Trumka said. “The outcome is the same either way. If leaders aren’t blocking the wrecking ball and advancing working families’ interests, then working people will not support them.”

The AFL-CIO’s executive council is considering a plan that could spend less on congressional races and more on fighting state battles like those in Wisconsin and Ohio, where lawmakers want to weaken collective bargaining rights and reduce union clout.

But Trumka made clear the federation had no plan to follow the lead of the nation’s largest firefighters union, which announced last month that it would halt all political donations to members of Congress because they are not fighting hard enough for union rights. The move has won praise in many corners of the labor movement, where union activists have openly grumbled about House and Senate Democrats being too quiet while unions are getting pummeled in dozens of states.

“We’ve spent money where we have friends and we will continue to do that,” he said.

Leon Fink, a labor historian at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said unions are tired of being taken for granted and discouraged that their influence with moderate and conservative Democrats has been limited.

“Spending a lot of money electing conservative Democrats in marginal districts had no legislative payoff for unions,” Fink said. “They don’t seem to have the capacity to impose their will on the party.”

Damon Silvers of the AFL-CIO joined Cenk Uygur to discuss the issue

Mr. Trumka did not mention President Obama but was incensed about the tax deal the White House cut with Senate Republicans last year and curtly reminded the Democrats that aren’t assured of union support: “Remember Blanch Lincoln”. Ouch

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