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

By | Energy, Labor Unions | One Comment

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?

AFL-CIO’s Trumka Tells Mine Workers to Go Pound Sand

By | Economy, Energy, Labor Unions | One Comment

A thousand or so protesters marched by our offices on Monday, shouting, banging drums, carrying signs that identified them as environmental activists. We learned that the group came from a rally at Lafayette Square, the wind-up of something called the Power Shift Conference, organized by the Energy Action Coalition, which claimed to have attracted “5000 young Obama voters” to palaver on green energy.

Critical thinking is over

There are so many factions, groups, alliances and cadres involved in these efforts it’s difficult to determine who is most accountable for the various policy idiocies (Energy Justice!, 100 Percent Clean Energy Now!), but one person clearly on record is Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO president.

Trumka shouted his slogans at the rally:

Because of your action, we’re moving past manufactured deficit hysteria. We’re moving past the same-old tired debates and toward jobs and a clean, green future.

You’re shifting America’s focus. You’re building power and political will to force our elected leaders to consider the quality of the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the jobs we have, and the future we need for ourselves and our children.

Manufactured deficit hysteria? Tell that to Standard & Poor’s.

Trumka and the other speakers excoriated the usual targets, the Chamber, Big Polluters, BP, Koch Industries, Exxon, etc.

Coal, the source of about half the nation’s electricity, was another subject of hate. Many of the marchers carried the sign featured in the photo above, “Coal is over,” and the agitprop media advisory announced the marchers planned to protest at “the headquarters of the electric utility Gen-On, which continues to burn coal in Virginia.” (Sure hope so. Without coal, Virginia gets much darker, colder and poorer.)

These activists are clear about their goal: They want to kill coal. They want to shut down coal-fired power plants.

In giving these activists his full-throated support, Richard Trumka is telling his union brothers and sisters in the coal-mining industry that their jobs don’t matter, he would as soon as put them out of work. The United Mine Workers of America have about 30,000 members, but to Trumka, these men and women are just tools of an exploitive coal industry.

What’s so astonishing is that Trumka comes from a coal mining family and was a miner himself before working his way up to President of the United Mine Workers of America and then moving to the AFL-CIO. He used to go down in the mine with men he now wants to put out of work.

When the AFL-CIO’s Trumka denounces “the same-0ld tired debates,” he’s really denouncing the jobs that make this nation run, including tens of thousands of union jobs in the mining industry. So much for solidarity.

(Post slightly modified 1:20 p.m.)