Entries in Richard Trumka (3)


Trumka on Obama: ‘It’s Time For Us To Have His Back’

Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka, once a vocal critic of President Obama who even threatened to withhold support for his re-election, says passage of the administration’s jobs bill should now be the “first task” of progressive and labor movements in the U.S.

“Like many of you in this room, I’ve been one of the first to call out President Obama when I thought it was needed. But when he’s doing the right thing, when he’s doing the courageous thing, it’s time for us to have his back and push that bill through and put people back to work,” Trumka told a cheering crowd at a Washington conference.

The comments are a sign Obama’s populist shift over the past few weeks has begun to win over members of his liberal base. Some have signaled that the American Jobs Act is becoming an effective rallying point for the 2012 campaign.

“When we call for fair taxes on those who fed on America’s economic collapse, they’ll cry ‘class warfare.’ But I’ll tell you, it wasn’t our class that declared war on working people and people who work for a living,” said Trumka. “If they want to have a debate on class warfare, bring it on down, we’ll have that debate.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama's Labor Problem: Union Scales Back Support

The White House/Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- As if dismal economic growth, high unemployment and natural disasters weren't enough to dampen President Obama's vacation, the nation's largest labor union has announced that it will scale back support of the Democratic Party for the 2012 elections.

AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka -- who has met with Obama frequently -- said Thursday that the union will spend more of its money to "build our own structure" and give less money "to build structures for others."

In other words, instead of giving money to boost the Democratic Party as a whole, the union plans to build its own strategy to influence specific races and highlight particular issues beyond the election season.

"Contributing money to the party had value but it didn't leave anything enduring that was independent of the party," said AFL-CIO's political media outreach specialist Jeff Hauser.  "We are much more interested in building a year-round, odd year and even year, every year political mobilization rather than gearing up ourselves six months [before the election] and relying on an external political operation."

President Obama's relationship with labor unions has been on the rocks after the president failed to achieve passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, or "card-check" bill, that would make it easier for workers to organize.

"There is broad frustration with the party and all elected officials, broad frustration with the lack of a union agenda," said Michael Monroe, chief of staff of the Building & Construction Trades Department of AFL-CIO.  "People are looking for outlets to express that frustration."

The president's support of free trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea was also unpopular with labor groups like the AFL-CIO, which contributed $1.6 million to Democratic campaigns in 2010 and $1.2 million during the past presidential election.

Hauser said there is "broad discontent within the labor movement" because Washington is preoccupied with cutting deficits instead of setting its sights on creating jobs.

"The number one issue in this country is by far the jobs crisis," he said.  "We hope to encourage leaders to focus on the real issue, the jobs crisis, rather than focusing so much attention on long-run deficit issues."

The union's announcement comes on the heels of AFL-CIO's move to create their own Super PAC (Political Action Committee), which will allow the union to collect and spend unlimited funds.  The union said the Super PAC is one aspect of AFL-CIO's strategy to build a year-round political operation.

Hauser said the new structure will increase AFL-CIO's ability to impact elections and strengthen the candidates it supports.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Trumka Tells Obama to Stop 'Nibbling Around the Edge' on Jobs

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- AFL/CIO President Richard Trumka on Thursday urged President Obama to put forth “bold solutions” to the nation’s unemployment crisis in his post-Labor Day jobs speech, warning of political peril if he’s seen as merely “nibbling around the edge” of the issue.

“History will judge him and I think working people will judge him,” Trumka told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington, according to video of the event.

Trumka said Obama made a “strategic mistake” in trying to address both the unemployment situation and deficit crisis at the same time over recent weeks, and must now focus solely and aggressively on creating jobs.

“We do not have a short-term deficit crisis. It does not exist,” Trumka said. “We have a short-term jobs crisis. And if you fix the job crisis the deficit crisis goes away.”

Trumka has been a frequent critic of Obama’s handling of the economic crisis, and he insisted that organized labor will not automatically support the president or congressional Democrats come Election Day if they do not more aggressively act on their behalf.

AFL-CIO took steps this week to form a new “super” PAC which leaders say will allow the group to more forcefully and independently support favored candidates by raising and spending unlimited funds.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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