October 17, 2011
By Harry Kelber
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka presented a comprehensive analysis of the nation’s economic crisis in a “major speech” at the Brookings Institute on Sept.30. In his speech, he offered a six-point program that he said would “restore the middle class, which is the heart and soul of the American Dream.”
There was actually nothing new in Trumka’s one hour and 26 minute speech that he had not said many times before since the start of the recession. His sophisticated audience knew about the horrible statistics on unemployment, the immoral behavior of global multinationals, the cases of mistreatment of workers, the outsourcing of American jobs and other problems he discussed. They were expecting to hear something unusual and perhaps dramatic, but they didn’t get it.
Trumka’s six-point program for solving the economic crisis is almost identical to the one he’s been advocating at various forums. It calls for rebuilding our transportation, manufacturing and energy sectors as 21st Century enterprises. Absent is any mention of the three wars that the U.S. is currently engaged in or their cost in lives and treasure.
“Our challenge today is preserving jobs and creating new ones — not throwing people out of work and cutting off essential services and benefits, “Trumka said. He discussed why labor was opposed to the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Colombia, South Korea and Panama, which Congress will soon be voting on. He had some harsh comments about China.
Trumka expressed approval of President Obama’s jobs bill, saying “Congress should pass it right away — and then do more.” He did not mention that the AFL-CIO had spent several weeks to promote its “America Wants to Work” campaign. Apparently most people, especially the unemployed, had figured that out by themselves.