Obama mum on details from secret AFL-CIO meeting, critics bill it as more WH union favoritism

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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President Barack Obama met behind closed doors with labor union bosses from the AFL-CIO on Tuesday morning.

It’s unclear what happened in the closed-door meeting, which Obama fit into his schedule before the debt-ceiling smoke began settling. Spokespersons for the Obama administration have not responded to The Daily Caller’s requests for comment on what specifically the president discussed with AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka and other union bosses.

AFL-CIO spokesperson Alison Omens said the meeting was about fixing the nation’s economic issues and job creation, but she didn’t provide specifics. “This morning’s meeting with the general board of the AFL-CIO was a conversation about the urgent need to focus on job-creating policies that will propel working people and our economy forward,” Omens said, according to an Agence France-Presse story. “Working people are desperate to hear how we’re going to focus on the real economy and the jobs crisis, and President Obama conveyed his own feeling of urgency around dealing with the jobs crisis.”

That response doesn’t satisfy critics, especially since no specific details about the secret meeting have made it into the public sphere. Crossroads GPS spokesman Jonathan Collegio told The Daily Caller that Obama’s latest discussion with AFL-CIO bosses appears to be a sign that more political favors for Big Labor are on the horizon. Collegio thinks this is Trumka’s and other union bosses’ way to plan how they’ll work together heading in 2012.

“Big Labor spent $400 million helping elect Barack Obama in 2008, and Obama paid them back by handing over control of the National Labor Relations Board,” Collegio said in an email. “The unions and Obama are planning out phase two of their symbiotic relationship ahead of the 2012 elections.”

Trumka and other union bosses are likely using these behind-closed-doors meetings to make political demands from the administration, the Workforce Fairness Institute (WFI) adds in a blog post. WFI says Obama and Big Labor publicly state that they’re trying to fix the economy and create jobs. “But behind closed doors, what will these union bosses demand next from the President? And what bailouts will the President grant them to help address Big Labor’s increasing irrelevance? After making nearly a half-billion dollar investment in President Obama in 2008, there is no doubt they want ‘payback’ for it.” (RELATED: Obama shifts focus to jobs and taxes, away from debt talks)

U.S. Chamber of Commerce labor policy specialist Glenn Spencer told TheDC that meetings like this indicate unions want more from Obama, even though several administrative agencies already rule in their favor more often than not. “Despite the fact that at least three government agencies are already tilting the scales in favor of organized labor,” Spencer said in an email, “the unions apparently feel that they are owed more.”