AFL-CIO to push economic agenda starting with January wage summit

WASHINGTON (PAI) — The AFL-CIO will strongly push its economic agenda, emphasizing job creation and raising workers’ incomes, starting with a “wage summit” in January in D.C., federation President Richard Trumka says.

It’ll be followed, he adds, by similar regional summits nationwide – and by the federation holding politicians accountable, in real time, vote by vote, on backing measures to create jobs.

Trumka’s announcement came as elaboration of what organized labor plans to do in the wake of the November 4 election, which gave the GOP, including its anti-worker wing, full control of Congress. They took over the Senate and increased their ranks in the U.S. House.

“We’ll start in January with a summit with our progressive friends” on how to raise wages for workers nationwide and plotting out a campaign to force the issue, Trumka explained. “Then, we’ll be pushing common-sense economics and we hope to get it to several million non-union members as well.” He gave no date for the summit.

“And every time they (lawmakers) vote against our members, we’ll let our members and the general public know,” he added. “If a candidate goes out with a strong economic message – ‘Here’s how I’ll solve your problems and get you a better standard of living’ – they’ll do well” at the polls two years from now, Trumka predicted.

The Republicans will have a particular economic responsibility, he added. Now that they control the entire Congress, “It’s on them” to produce for workers. “If they do the same old stuff, the workers will see it.”

But the fed will also hold the Democratic Obama administration to that standard, he warned. He cited the fed’s post-election poll, which showed voters were interested most in creating jobs and bettering their living standards and said he’d take it to the White House.

“I hope he (Obama) takes that poll as a roadmap and runs with it,” Trumka declared.

Economics won’t be the only issue labor stresses, though. Mass incarceration, immigration and, especially, racism will be on the agenda, too, he said. Racism, he explained, “is right below the surface in both politics and economics.”

Photo: Richard Trumka. AP


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but a holy terror when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.