Labor Reform Movement: July 24, 2012

Can You Guess Who Is the Person
With the Sweetest Job in America?

By Harry Kelber

The man who has earned that title is Richard L. Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, a 12-million-member labor organization. So let me tell you why.

Trumka is not the richest man in the U.S., although it’s true that he is doing far better than most of us at a salary of $264,827 in 2010, which is about eight times the average salary of union members.

In 2011, just one year later, he had his salary increased to $293,750. That’s a 10 percent increase in one year. And without union members being told about the increase. How many of us got that kind of pay boost?

Trumka does not make as much as a corporate CEO, but he has something CEOs don’t have. They can be fired, but he can’t. “Rich” Trumka’s job is guaranteed even if the AFL-CIO suffers defeat after defeat. Now that’s job security.

“Rich” makes speeches and issues statements but he can’t point to a single thing he has accomplished to improve wages and benefits for working people. Look at Trumka’s record of failures:

He started a campaign to “Make Wall Street Pay” for the economic crisis. He vowed to continue the fight until the bankers paid up. The campaign ended two days later, without an explanation.

Trumka led the effort to get Congress to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, claiming it was essential to enable the AFL-CIO to grow. He let President Obama renege on his promise to push EFCA and the campaign died. Rich also caved in on the Affordable Care Act, settling on compromises that turned into defeats.

“Rich” let Obama and the Republicans cut spending on hundreds of programs serving the Middle Class, as well as the poor, sick and elderly. He did nothing to fight back to save programs that were desperately needed.

Trumka has taken no action to fight for jobs, except to talk about it. He has no plan to mobilize the unemployed to fight for jobs. He shows no empathy for the plight of unemployed families. He is still going to get his $293,750, no matter how many millions of children live in poverty, without any help from the AFL-CIO. Trumka rarely mingles with Middle Class or Working Class folk. At a salary of close to $300,000 a year, he is rarely seen socially with working people

Trumka Acts Like A Dictator — and Gets Away with it!

A couple of years ago, Trumka arbitrarily decreed that the AFL-CIO NOW web site must not carry any news or information about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There would be no official mention of the two wars in the official documents or public statements.

The ban on war news was particularly upsetting to the families that had loved ones risking their lives in the two wars. His action was a clear violation of free speech. Yet, there was remarkably little criticism of Trumka’s single-handed blackout.

The same thing happened when “Rich” placed a ban on any discussion of “women’s issues,” depriving working women, who represent about 42 percent of the AFL-CIO, of information about planned parenthood, birth control and abortion. Again, there was no massive public outcry against Trumka’s actions.

* * * * *

We have found no evidence that Trumka has an admiring group of supporters, although we have asked them to come forward and defend him. None have, because his behavior and record is indefensible. He is not a welcome quest at women’s meetings and conferences. He has done hardly anything to fight for low-wage earners, not even vocally supporting an increase in the minimum wage law.

If there are any Latinos, Black and Asian trade unionists who speak well of Trumka, they have kept the news to themselves.

So why do we allow him to stay in power? Why has no one, except a 98-year-old unionist, dared to challenge him publicly by name? Among the 12 million AFL-CIO members, aren’t there union people with courage to lead a reform movement that will get rid of the do-nothing, corrupt, incompetent and self-serving bureaucrats who run the AFL-CIO?

Just as a reminder, for more than 100 years, no officer or member of a State AFL or Central Labor Council has ever been elected to the policy-making Executive Council.

Are we going to let Trumka and his group continue that exclusionary policy for decades to come?

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