Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, gave a luncheon speech at the National Press Club on Monday mostly offering the standard class warfare interpretation of the economy and politics. Amid the half-newsy remarks about health care, excise taxes, and the electoral plans for labor, Trumka also repeated his pitch for the union’s “Five Point Plan for Jobs.” From the prepared text:
The AFL-CIO’s five-point program will create more than 4 million jobs—extending unemployment benefits, including COBRA; expanding federal infrastructure and green jobs investments; dramatically increasing federal aid to state and local governments facing fiscal disaster; direct job creation where feasible; and finally, direct lending of TARP money to small and medium sized businesses that can’t get credit because of the financial crisis.
Though rarely noted outside of union speeches and blog posts, this plan may eventually be seen as an important transition in labor history, representing the moment when even old line unions like the AFL-CIO came to base their entire existence on government. Every single point in that program depends on federal government action and spending.
The same dependency is also manifested in labor’s allegiance to the Employee Free Choice Act: Having sunk to representing less than 8 percent of the private sector, organized labor now wants to use the power of the federal government to force workers into union membership against their wills. In the Q&A period, Trumka claimed, “I think you’ll see the Employee Free Choice Act pass in the first quarter of 2010, you’ll see it have some real effect, we will start creating and making good jobs in this country again.”
If the government lets us.