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Top Union Officials Air Tensions in Obama Meeting

On the AFL-CIO blog, Trumka said the deal came at a “terrible price because it rewards obstructionists with huge tax breaks for the nation’s richest and throws away precious resources we could use to revive our economy.”

In an e-mail to union activists, Trumka said the tax deal was “the initial battle working people will face between now and 2012.” And he predicted that “lawmakers who fought to get tax cuts for millionaires will come after Social Security and Medicare in the name of deficit reduction and ‘shared sacrifice.’”

The labor unions’ displeasure with Obama does not end with tax policy. They have also been unhappy with the president’s increasing willingness to consider free trade agreements. Earlier this month, the AFL-CIO came out against the South Korea FTA, which the administration had just completed negotiating.

And the unions representing federal workers blasted the president’s recommendation earlier this month of a salary freeze for the federal work force.

But in general, organized labor has been among Obama’s biggest supporters. Labor organizations have poured financial resources not only into his election effort but also into advocacy campaigns that helped push through the president’s health care and financial reform measures.

The president has given union insiders a number of high-level administration posts, including the controversial recess appointment of Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board. Becker was opposed by Republicans because of his close ties to unions.

But Obama was not able to push through one of labor’s top legislative priorities, the card-check measure, which would make it easier for unions to organize.

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