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Trumka: 'Working People Are Taking Matters into Our Own Hands'

RLT at CSM
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AFL‑CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) spoke to reporters Wednesday at The Christian Science Monitor breakfast, highlighting the wave of collective action sweeping the country. “We’re living through the kind of defining moment that can leave its mark for a generation,” he said. “A moment that will determine what kind of economy we work in and what kind of society we live in.”

Working people aren’t backing down from the challenges we face; we’re surging to collective action. Working people are rising to the moment, and if you want to see the evidence, look to the streets. That was AFL‑CIO President Richard Trumka’s message to a gaggle of reporters. Here are a few highlights from his remarks:

  • The fact is working people are taking matters into our own hands. We’re looking inward to position ourselves to shape the future of work and the labor movement. We’re organizing. We’re mobilizing. And we’re winning.

  • Our job this election season is to secure that promise for even more working people by filling the halls of power with genuine champions of collective bargaining....We’re unleashing the largest and most strategic member-to-member political program in our history, sparking change by doing what organizers do best: talking to each other.

  • If you want to see that power on full display, just look at what’s going on in Missouri right now....Working people took matters into our own hands. We were tasked with getting 100,000 signatures to put [“right to work”] to a statewide vote. You know what we did? We organized and turned in more than 300,000 signatures. The election is Tuesday. And let me tell you something: We’re going to win.

Here are excerpts from some of the coverage of the Christian Science Monitor breakfast:

Bloomberg BNA:

Voters in Missouri will repeal right-to-work legislation when they vote in the state’s primary next week, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka predicted Aug. 1.

“We’re going to win on August 7th because the people of Missouri and the rest of the country don’t want to go in that direction,” Trumka said at a media event in Washington.

People's World:

“Working people expect the Supreme Court to be the most-fair branch of our government. Does anybody believe that’s true any more?” he asked. And a Supreme Court tilt, Trumka warned, “does a tremendous disservice to the country.”

Trumka blasted the Kavanaugh nomination at an August 1 breakfast with reporters, hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. Other topics of his talk included the coming mid-term elections, NAFTA talks and what labor hopes to see from them and increased worker activism nationwide.

“The Supreme Court shouldn’t be a Republican Supreme Court or a Democratic Supreme Court,” he told People’s World afterwards.

USA Today:

International trade is a vital part of the U.S. economy, but powerful corporate interests and secret negotiations have led to trade rules that “stacked the deck” for large corporations at the expense of working people, Trumka told reporters at a breakfast roundtable sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor.

“It’s time to rewrite those laws,” Trumka said, adding that Trump “understands that’s what needs to be done.”

Tariffs are a legitimate tool against enforcing trade agreements, but should be used selectively “like rifles” against countries that are breaking the rules, not against Canada, Trumka said.

“I don't think that Canada has violated the rules,” he said.

Buffalo News:

Trumka spelled out why over the course of an hour-long breakfast with reporters on Wednesday. To hear Trumka tell it, Trump is too scattershot on trade – and on other issues, his administration is taking aim directly at American workers.

Sure, Trump made a lot of promises to working people during his 2016 campaign, but apart from his promise to rewrite America's trade deals, “nearly all of those promises are broken or unfulfilled," Trumka said.

That being said, Trumka gave the president high marks for at least trying to cut better trade deals for American workers.

Washington Examiner

"I am going to make a prediction: We are going to win," Trumka told reporters at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. "It will be proof positive that we are not ceding an inch in the wake of the Janus decision." [...]

Unions, by contrast, have been organized and effective. After the state legislature passed the law last year, they got the 300,000 signatures they needed from voters supporting a public vote on rolling back the law.