Trumka’s Pay Jumped from $165,000 to $293,750; He Has a 60% Life-Time Pension When He Retires

By Harry Kelber | The American Labor Reform Movement | January 21, 2013

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka increased his salary from 1995, when he earned $165,000 as secretary-treasurer, to $293,750, which he began earning after becoming AFL-CIO president in 2009. This amounts to a 23 percent wage increase in little more than a dozen years.

In addition, Trumka receives a 60% pension, which means that when he retires, he will get three-fifths of his highest wage for the rest of his life in weekly payments.

Trumka’s rubber-stamp Executive Council made his future even brighter. It put into the AFL-CIO Constitution the following promise:

"The Executive Council is empowered between convention to make such increases in the President’s annual salary as the Council determines are warranted."

The 6-figure salary is paid to Trumka each week, even if the AFL-CIO keeps losing members and some of its pension investments turn sour.

Trumka considers himself a champion of the Middle Class. Yet, except for militant speeches against Wall Street, he has done nothing to help workers who lost their jobs and their homes during the economic crisis. Wages remain stagnant for workers during the years Trumka has led the AFL-CIO.

He is rarely seen in photos with ordinary workers, especially working women and anti-war advocates, whom he has banned from the AFL-CIO website. It’s hard to identify any group that admires Trumka and his leadership skills. But fortunately for him, he doesn’t have to depend on them for re-election. His standard response to questions from union members is silence. That may be a proper reply for a recluse, not for the leader of 11 million workers.

Who Supports Trumka as AFL-CIO President?

About a month ago, I invited Trumka’s supporters to use space in my column to describe his accomplishments, and why he should continue as AFL-CIO President. I received only one reply: he’s tough-looking.

There are many reasons why Trumka is not popular with union members. He has offended working women, who comprise over 40 percent of the AFL-CIO membership. He has antagonized anti-war advocates by banning the discussion of Iraq and Afghanistan from the Federation web site. And he has not had a chummy relationship with African-Americans and ethnic minorities. Whom is he leading?


Trumka will do everything possible to ensure that he gets re-elected. What he fears most is a free, honest election, with opposing candidates able to challenge every aspect of his leadership, from now until the opening of the AFL-CIO convention in Los Angeles on September 8, 2013.

Trumka expected a free ride to the presidency. That won’t happen. He will be compelled to defend himself against an assortment of charges that he won’t be able to ignore by his usual silence.

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