Tag Archive: Richard Trumka

Nov 21 2012

Laboring Under This Administration’s Anti-Labor Ties

And no, I’m not talking about the past anti-labor ties like former COS Rahm Emanuel who called labor unions “f-ing retarded” and condescendingly opined about “where are they going to go?” if they expect more from Democrats. No, I’m not talking about the NAFTA and China PNTR hatchet man that helped crush US industry before he became mayor of the President’s home town of Chicago attacking the teacher unions that helped elect this President. And I’m not talking the former U.S. Secretary of Commerce and JP Morgan Executive that also worked with Rahm and the Clinton administration to pass NAFTA either.

Of course, there still are plenty of anti-labor ties to choose from such as Jeffrey “China! China! China!” Immelt who serves as chairman of his outside panel of economic advisers while retaining his post as chairman of the board and CEO of the GE; the non tax paying conglomerate that outsourced its X-ray division from Wisconsin to China. Of course I don’t need to which brings me to the main point of this piece.

(h/t Rick Pearlstein)

Sep 04 2011

AFL-CIO President Gets Tough With Democrats

Recently AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka laid in on the line to the White House and the Democrats, you don’t support us, we won’t support you. “In the past we’ve spent a significant amount of resources on candidates and party structures, and the day after election, workers were no stronger then they were the day before,” Trumka said, during a sit down at his Washington D.C. office slightly more than a week ago.

The failure to pass Employee Free Choice Act and the public health insurance option and the renewal of the Bush tax cuts and the consistent push for free trade deals have made Mr. Trumka cranky. In light of the events in Wisconsin, he has taken a harder stand and in recent interviews has politely let his frustrations show.  This is some of what he said in an interview with Huffington Post where he also spoke out on Social Security and Medicare:

“What we are now focused on is doing a couple of things differently,” Trumka said. “In the past, we would build our structure six to eight months before the election,” he added. “Now we’re not going to do that. We’re going to focus our resources on building a structure that has total fidelity towards America’s working people, both union and non-union working people. We’ll do it 12 months a year, so they’ll be able to transition from electoral politics, to advocacy, to accountability with no effort. And it will continue to build greater strength for workers after the election and in between elections.”

snip

“How do you tell someone like my dad, who retired the day he was 62, that he has to work to 67? It would have been a death sentence for him,” said Trumka. “He couldn’t have worked to 67 — he was completely disabled of black lung. So what do you tell then? You tell them that they ought to be able to retire at a lower range.”

“I think the President made a strategic mistake when he abandoned talking about the jobs crisis and job creation and focused completely on the politically manufactured debt crisis,” he said when asked for a review of the administration’s economic record. “You have one very obvious way to make a dent in the deficit crisis, which is to get people back to work.”

“But you don’t have anyone actually talking about jobs,” Trumka said. “And when you bring it up to people at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, their almost universal response is we have a Congress that won’t do it. So what do you do? You do what leaders do, you lead.”

Another labor official spoke about plans to engage more on the local level:

“One of the most important aspects of the labor movement, which is different then for other entities, is that we have an enormous network of local community workers who are responsible for talking to people after their election,” one top union official said. “The experience of the last six years should teach progressives a great deal about the difference between elected people who say the right thing in their candidate questionnaires and the people who are there voting for workers, voting for jobs and advocating our positions.”

“There was a perception in the progressive community in January 2009 that things had gotten pretty good,” the official, who requested anonymity, added. “But we didn’t have an infrastructure in place to say we need a bigger stimulus, or we need to be concerned about jobs or we need to have a different national agenda.”

So what has President Obama done since he was elected? He has met with and capitulated to the demands of Republicans, banks, Wall St. and corporations. I sincerely doubt that Obama will have anything that will be any different to say on Thursday than this mediocre responses of the past.

May 21 2011

AFL-CIO President Lays It On The Line

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

Apr 18 2011

Labor Is Unhappy with Obama

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka explains why labor leaders oppose many of the recent budget cuts, a new trade agreement with Columbia and plans to reform entitlements.

At the end of the interview, Trumka directly addresses the “entitlement” issues of Social Security and Medicaid:

Trumka: Let’s not mix apples and oranges. Socal Security is not part of the deficit crisis. It did not cause the deficit. Yet in the mix, when people talk about it, like you just did, the readers, the listeners would assume that the Social Security crisis problem . . . .

Mitchell: We’re not talking about the deficit crisis, we’re talking about making it viable as a pension.

Trumka: If you want to attack Medicare and Medicaid, you have to attack health care costs. Instead of doing away with the public option, there should be a public option to create competition. 94& of the health care markets out there are highly concentrated. That means there are one or two companies out there that can charge you anything they want. All you have to do for Social Security is scrap the cap. Take the cap away, you don’t have to have this. What we’re ding with priorities in this country, Andrea, is saying we can’t afford good jobs. We can’t afford retirement security. We can’t afford health care for our citizens. When the rest of the world figured that out, they figured out a way to do it. We are the richest nation on the face of the earth, we can do it, too. That’s why we’ll speak up and fight against those cuts to Social Security unti everybody, and I mean everybody, has paid their fair share.

In the report that was released but not approved, the President’s own Deficit Commission advocated for a strong public option for health care. There are two solutions mentioned by Trumka that are easy and viable solutions that are not mentioned by either the President, or the Democratic leadership, “scrap the cap” on Social Security contributions and a string public option for health care