AFL-CIO Chief Warns Red to Blue Candidates That Being a Democrat Isn’t Enough

Richard Trumka met with candidates and leadership at DCCC on Thursday

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, here at the Democratic National Convention in 2016, met with the DCCC’s Red to Blue candidates at the committee’s headquarters Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democratic candidates in town this week for training at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Washington got a visit from AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka for some tips on how they can win back working-class voters.

“I don’t have to tell you that you can’t count on the D next to your name to gain our support,” Trumka told Democratic leadership and a room full of candidates on Red to Blue, the DCCC’s program for its strongest candidates.

This is the first time the labor leader has spoken to DCCC candidates this cycle, though he has done so in previous cycle. He told the congressional hopefuls that the AFL-CIO is prepared to lend them its support, if they embrace the group’s agenda. Democrats need a net gain of 23 seats to win the House majority in November. 

“We are ready to move heaven and earth to help a genuine ally,” Trumka said, citing organized labor’s early involvement for Pennsylvania Rep. Conor Lamb in his upset victory in a March special election in a district that President Donald Trump carried by 20 points in 2016.

The AFL-CIO is prioritizing “member to member” contact this cycle to ensure their members get out to vote. 

Trumka laid out specific policy areas where candidates need to line up with the AFL-CIO’s agenda.

“More than anything, that means helping us pass the Workers’ Freedom to Negotiate Act so aspiring union members can organize freely and fairly,” Trumka told the candidates.

“It means health care as a fundamental right, the expansion of Social Security and guaranteed pensions. It means trillions of dollars so we can build the best infrastructure in the world with union labor and prevailing wages,” he added.

Trumka went on to call for candidates to align with the AFL-CIO’s priorities on trade deals and taxes. He also called for “comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship that reunites our families and ends the terror in our workplaces and communities.”

Watch: Pelosi — Lamb Win in Republican District a ‘Tremendous Victory’

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.