AFL-CIO Chief Warns Democrats Not to Take Labor for Granted

Posted January 11, 2010 at 3:03pm

En route to a health care summit with President Barack Obama on Monday, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka warned Democrats that they risk repeating 1994’s electoral blood bath if they fail to make good on legislative promises to unions.

“We will not vote for politicians who think they can push a few crumbs our way and then continue the failed economic policies of the last 30 years,— Trumka told an audience Monday at the National Press Club. “Politicians who think that working people have it too good — too much health care, too much Social Security and Medicare, too much power on the job — are inviting a repeat of 1994.—

Trumka and other labor leaders were scheduled to meet Monday afternoon with White House health care negotiators. The discussions are expected to revolve around a Senate-proposed tax on “Cadillac— insurance plans. Labor brass worries the levy will disproportionately hit union members, but White House bean counters argue the tax is needed to drive down the skyrocketing cost of coverage.

The new AFL-CIO president also predicted on Monday that the Employee Free Choice Act, a top priority of labor, would reach Obama’s desk by April 1. Trumka said the current bill is supported by Senate and House majorities and the Obama administration.

“We’re going to have the Employee Free Choice Act despite the determined efforts of Republican Party and a group of business people who really don’t want labor law reform at all,— Trumka said.

The onetime coal miner declined to indicate whether his federation would support compromise “card check— legislation that strips out contentious provisions in the hopes of salvaging the long-foundering bill.

“I make it a habit of not bargaining in public,— Trumka said.