Questions for AFL-CIOs Richard Trumka at the Press Club
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?
- 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?