Labor leader refuses invitation to debate the minimum wage

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Breanna Deutsch Contributor
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Are union leaders avoiding having an open and honest debate about the minimum wage?

It appears that at least Richard Trumka, president of the national labor organization AFL-CIO, is averting an invitation to have a public discussion about the possible impacts of raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour.

The Employment Policies Institute (EPI) originally sent Trumka an invitation to debate the merits of the minimum wage in response to a letter the AFL-CIO president sent Jim DeMint of the Heritage Foundation, asking him to debate the policy.

DeMint passed on the invitation, and then EPI offered to either have its research director Michael Saltsman or the institute’s executive director Rick Berman take DeMint’s place, hoping not to miss out on an opportunity for the two opposing viewpoints to be hashed out.

However, fifteen days after EPI sent a letter through certified mail to Trumka, they have not heard a peep from the leader of the union group. EPI says they have also attempted to get a response from Trumka through Twitter and by contacting AFL-CIO’s press office.

“We have not heard anything from him and I think what it suggests is that Trumka and the AFL-CIO are more of a bluster than they are serious about having a real debate about this policy,” says EPI’s research director Michael Saltsman.

Referring to the recent Congressional Budget Report that estimated at least 500,000 jobs could be lost if Congress hiked the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, Saltsman told The Daily Caller News Foundation, “Especially in light of all of the recent reports that have come out, including the CBO, it is becoming increasingly difficult to defend this policy.”

He added, “At the end of the day if the AFL-CIO thinks this is an important enough of a policy to put a lot of their collective financial mite behind, then they should be willing to get out there in the public sphere and defend their policy.”

“If Richard Trumka is not willing to do that, then it raises the question as to why they are supporting it in the first place,” Saltsman noted.

In an effort to call attention to Trumka’s reluctance to debate the policy, on Wednesday EPI sent a mobile billboard outside of AFL-CIO’s headquarters in Washington, DC.

The billboard features a large photo of Trumka with several chickens surrounding his face. It asks, “Why won’t AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka debate us on the minimum wage? Perhaps he’s too chicken?” It also directs viewers to visit


TheDCNF reached out to AFL-CIO for comment and is waiting for the labor group’s response.

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