An article in The Nation yesterday talked about the work AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has been doing on the campaign trail and how we would like to see Democrats be more populist and put more emphasis on economic fairness.
The midterm elections are twenty-seven days away, and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has been keeping a relentless road schedule campaigning for Democratic candidates. One thing he’d like to see more of: talk about basic economic fairness issues.
“I think more populism, or more focus on the economic issues, would be helpful,” he told a small group of reporters at the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, DC. “I think it would help drive turnout as well. I think the candidates that focus only on negative things, doing everything negative, have a real danger of having their base go flat.”
Trumka said that in talking to workers on the campaign trail, he frequently confronts a problem that has bedeviled Democrats in many past midterms: apathy. Union members wonder why it matters if they vote.
“They say that at the plant gate, at doors, on the telephone,” Trumka said. “I try to explain to them that the economy is not like the weather. Those that are in power, and those that want to be in power, want us to believe the economy is like the weather—there’s nothing you can do about it, so don’t bother. But the economy…it’s nothing but a bunch of rules. And those rules decide the winners and losers, and those rules are made by the men and women we elect. That’s why this election is important.”However, when reading this, I could not help remembering the work that Trumka is also doing to keep the House in Boehner's hands.
Back in June, the AFL-CIO formally endorsed Republican Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02), who scored a 72% on the Tea Party scorecard organized by progressive group Americans United for Change. He has only a 53% lifetime score (62% for 2013) with the AFL-CIO. That's a D- and an F. By contrast, all but 27 members of the Democratic caucus have a lifetime A. (Then 21 B's, 5 C's, and only one D--the horrible Jim Matheson.)
The AFL-CIO even made the UAW rescind its endorsement of LoBiondo's challenger Bill Hughes, Jr.
Back in April, Richard Trumka even wrote a letter to DCCC chairman Steve Israel (mentioned in the link above) asking him not to target LoBiondo. The letter has since been taken down from the NALC's website, but you can still read it in USW Local 1999's newsletter from April if you so desire.
I don't know a lot about LoBiondo's challenger, Democratic Bill Hughes, Jr. But from what I can see on his site, he would be a far better friend to labor than LoBiondo. And unlike LoBiondo, he won't be voting for John Boehner as Speaker.