By Harry Kelber
A year from now, Richard Trumka will be running for re-election as president of the AFL-CIO. Despite the dismal record of his three years in office, he expects to win by not saying a word about why he deserves re-election.
Trumka is counting on two occurrences to sweep him to victory: (1) that the big unions, with a majority of convention votes, will remain loyal to him in their own interests, and (2) union members have become so passive or cynical, that they don't see any possibility of reforms to restore honest elections and membership rights.
Here are a few highlights of Trumka's incompetence, insensitivity and tolerance of corruption:
He initiated a campaign to "Make Wall Street Pay" for the economic crisis it had caused. His campaign never got off the ground. He never talked face-to-face with a single banker.
His leadership in the campaign for the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) was a disaster. He meekly accepted President Obama's decision not to press for the legislation, which had been a top-priority issue with the AFL-CIO.
He banned any mention of abortion, planned parenthood and child care from the AFL-CIO NOW web site, ignoring the fact that working women represent more than 40 percent of the labor federation.
He refused to allow any mention of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in AFL-CIO statements or literature. He never made a public comment on the nation's two ongoing wars.
He refused to oppose a provision in the AFL-CIO Constitution that stripped state and local union bodies from having a voice at conventions.
He has shown no interest in setting up an AFL-CIO Education Department or finding other means to keep members informed. They are learning very little about important changes in the world ecomomy and labor movement.
While he makes crowd-pleasing speeches, he is known for not taking strong actions to implement his ideas.About two months ago, we offered space to Trumka supporters to brag about his achievements. We received only one letter of mild praise.
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I believe that in an honest and democratic election, I could beat Trumka for the AFL-CIO presidency. So could at least a dozen or more qualified labor activists who may be developing the courage to run for the AFL-CIO's three top offices.
I want to make this pledge: If any other candidate or candidates announce they will challenge Trumka for the AFL-CIO's top post, I will resign my candidacy and transfer my support.
However, if there is no qualified candidate with the guts to challenge Trumka, I shall continue my campaign with maximum vigor.