Does Silence and Money Go Hand-In-Hand?

By Harry Kelber | The Labor Reform Movement | August 5, 2012

Union members often wonder what AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka does to earn 8 times their average salary. They can’t find out from Trumka himself, because for years he has refused to answer any of your questions.

We know that he makes speeches about the nation’s economic crisis, but we have yet to hear what he’s actually done to improve things for us. He has no plan to stop the exodus of tens of thousands of good-paying U.S. jobs to low-wage countries. He’s talk; but no action.

We’ve asked him why he hasn’t demanded that Wall Street establish a fund to compensate victims for the loss of millions of jobs and homes, but he won’t even talk to the bankers face-to-face about negotiating a fair settlement.

Trumka and his top aides have never issued a financial report of the AFL-CIO’s investments and assets, despite repeated requests from union members. He spends union per capita money as he chooses and does not have to account to an oversight committee for whatever he spends.

When unions lost hundreds of thousands of members during the recession years, there was no alarm at AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington. Trumka had no message to union members. He has continued to receive his full $293,750 in full and on time, regardless of AFL-CIO losses in membership and bargaining power and a dismal record of legislative failures.

Trumka made himself president of the National Labor College, but won’t say a word about the financial debts that the NLC has accumulated by gross mismanagement, the details of which were made public by the International Association of Machinists (IAM).

Trumka Bans Talk about U.S. Wars and Women’s Rights

Acting largely on his own, Trumka has banished talk about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on the AFL-CIO NOW web site and public statements by top officials. He did this in disregard of the millions of union members who have family, relatives, friends and co-workers on overseas battlefields, who are keenly interested in what’s happening in the two wars.

He took the same wrong-headed unilateral action on women’s rights, barring discussion of plant parenthood, abortion and birth
control, ignoring the fact that working women comprise over 49 percent of the AFL-CIO membership.

There is no provision to repeal Trumka’s actions, because he has the last word in any AFL-CIO controversy.

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The American Labor Reformers will be starting an investigation, and open up a discussion about what we pay our top labor leaders and what we have a right to expect from them. The floor is open to discussion by any union member who has something to say on this subject.

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