As Chinese President Hu Jintao visited with President Obama Wednesday, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, the leader of the largest labor union in the United States, delivered a speech at the National Press Club.
Trumka expressed fear of the political environment following November’s midterm elections and disappointment with the lack of accomplishment when Democrats retained majorities in Congress.
Although omitted from a prepared version of the address available on the AFL-CIO’s website, CBS and Bloomberg report that Trumka said that President Obama is “about as pro-business as any president.”
Trumka’s prepared remarks said, “The labor movement has learned something from the last two years about jobs and investment. We can’t count on the political process here in Washington to get the job done.”
The union, Trumka said, prioritizes an increase in federal infrastructure spending. He said that the union was working with local governments and businesses on projects, but that a national scale is needed.
In reaction to the wave of Republican victories in the midterm congressional election, Trumka said that it “has unleashed a coordinated effort to block the path to the middle class with an attack on workers’ rights.”
Trumka continued, “I am talking about the campaigns in state after state, funded by shadowy committees created in the wake of Citizens United, aimed at depriving all workers—public and private sector—of the basic human right to form strong unions and bargain collectively.”
“This attack is fueled by the enthusiasm – and the financial support — of people like Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, and Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire publisher behind Fox News,” Trumka said, “both participate in a committee formed to raise business funds to attack public employees, based on the proposition that firefighters and nurses and medical orderlies are overpaid.”
Blankfein was one of a select few businesspeople to meet with Obama and the Chinese president Wednesday.
Trumka blended a sense of patriotism and a desire to continue American economic superiority with warnings of a “kind of 21st century peonage to the lords of finance and energy and global supply chains.”