Tag: Blue Green Alliance

Questions for AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka at the Press Club

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka speaks at a National Press Club luncheon on Friday, an appearance billed thusly:

Trumka will speak out on recent efforts to curb collective bargaining rights in several states, including Wisconsin and Ohio. He also will discuss the political outlook for the 2012 elections, and the impact of austerity budgets on local, state and federal workers.

All good topics. Here are a few others that the reporters could raise during the Q&A period that traditionally follows Press Club remarks.

  • In a January 2010 National Press Club appearance you said: “I think you will see the Employee Free Choice Act pass in the first quarter of 2010.” And …”The president fully supports the Employee Free Choice Act, the Vice President fully supports the Employee Free Choice Act, a vast majority of the members of the House support the Employee Free Choice Act, a vast majority of the people of the Senate support the Employee Free Choice Act. And I think we are going to have the Employee Free Choice Act despite the determined efforts of the Republican Party.” So were you shining us on, deceiving your membership for tactical reasons, or are you just a lousy prognosticator? Did the failure of card check reflect organized labor’s lack of political influence? Your own lack of influence?

  • AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka addresses anti-coal crowd at April rally. (Photo: Energy Action Coalition)

  • You began your career as a coal miner and served as President of the United Mine Workers before being elected to head the AFL-CIO. Yet at an April “Power Shift” rally in front of the White House, you joined environmental activists in demanding “clean energy” policies in which coal has no role. Demonstrators held signs declaring “Coal is Over” and “No More Coal!” (More photos here and here.) How can you, as a union president, make common cause with activists who want to shut down the coal industry?

  • AFL-CIO affiliated unions are members of the Blue-Green Alliance, which includes such organizations as the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. Many people regard these groups as hostile to the industrial base of this nation’s economy. How do you reconcile union support for this alliance? According to a Department of Commerce study, green products and services account for at most 2 percent of private sector activity. How you can justify spending member dues on groups who have such a narrow focus and whose policies would eliminate unionized jobs in the energy and manufacturing sectors?

  • Do you believe nuclear power has a role in America’s future energy production? Because AFL-CIO member unions are sending member dues to a group that includes the Union of Concerned Scientists, one of the major opponents of nuclear energy.

  • Should a company that currently has unionized operations in a state ever be allowed to locate new operations in a right-to-work state?
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Card Check: Punishing Enemies, Rewarding Friends

As noted yesterday, the incoming AFL-CIO president, Richard Trumka, is free with his threats. In prepared remarks for delivery to the left-leaning Center for American Progress, Trumka said, “Today, more than ever, we need to be a labor movement that stands by our friends, punishes its enemies, and challenges those who, well, can’t seem to decide which side they’re on.”

So what reception will the AFL-CIO offer when President Obama addresses its national convention in Pittsburgh on September 15? After all, the President has done no heavy lifting on behalf of organized labor’s top priority, the undemocratic and unpopular Employee Free Choice Act.

Well, in politics you don’t politically threaten — even obliquely — the President when you’ve invited him to address your national convention. And for all the disappointment over EFCA, the labor bosses have much to happy about. For example:

So lots to be happy about if you’re a Big Labor Boss, and we imagine the Pittsburgh welcome will be a warm one for President Obama. The threats? Trumka will just issue them to members of Congress.

P.S. The Truth About EFCA blog makes the obvious and necessary point about Trumka’s bullying: “If union officials will talk this openly about punishing people who disagree with them, why would we want to expose workers to intimidation by denying them a secret ballot vote when deciding whether to join a union?”

 

 

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The Market is Too Timid, Therefore…Green Socialism!

He’s addressing the British economy in a British political landscape, but the Guardian’s columnist Neal Lawson sure comes up with familiar arguments in his piece, “How green socialism can save the UK“:

Two years into the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, with more than 2.4 million already without work, the official closure earlier this month of Britain’s only wind turbine blade manufacturing plant, Vestas, is a sharp reminder of the failure of blind reliance on free markets to solve the economic and climate change crises. The plant’s closure, with the loss of 400 jobs, was blamed on the slow pace of growth in the UK’s wind turbine market and the drawn out local planning process to agree projects.

It has brought home the reality that the changes needed to protect us from catastrophic climate change are exactly the opportunities that can catalyse an upturn in our economy. Clean, fuel-free renewable energy is a huge international growth sector – allowing countries to achieve energy security, protect themselves against volatile fossil fuel prices and stimulate economic development without the consequence of dangerous carbon emissions that are the primary cause of climate change.

Bottom line, says Mr. Lawson, “The stakes are too high to left to anonymous free market forces driven by fossil fuel and nuclear interests.”

In related news, the Blue Green Alliance tour rallies today in Dayton and gathers tomorrow for an event in Gary, Ind., where EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson speaks on the same stage with Frances Beinecke, President, Natural Resources Defense Council and Foster Stephens, President of the Gary Teachers Union.

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