A surreal fog hangs over U.S. labor unions' enthusiastic endorsement
of Barack Obama. When AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka
announced the labor federation's recent endorsement, the
exaggerated pro-Obama comments likely surprised union members
everywhere. Has President Trumka paid any attention to the labor
policies of President Obama?
In his announcement Trumka stated that: "As president, Barack
Obama has placed his faith in America's working men and women to
lead our country to economic recovery and our full potential. So we're
putting our faith in him." (March 13, 2012).
Sadly, Trumka's faith in Obama is not supported by any facts.
The "proof" that Trumka gave to support the Obama endorsement
was three-fold, and entirely misleading:
1) Obama's initial stimulus plan that created or "saved" 3.5 million
jobs (a generous estimate).
2) Obama's health care plan
3) The Wall Street reform bill
If the AFL-CIO President really wanted to assess Obama's first four
years in relation to working people, he should have included the
1) He bailed out the bankers, and his administration has refused to
prosecute any of them for the crimes they committed.
2) The shameful lack of action to create the 25 million full-time jobs
the AFL-CIO demanded, until recently, to address the jobs
3) The truth of Obama's health care plan; it slashes hundreds of
millions of dollars from Medicare; forces working people to buy
shoddy corporate health care, and taxes the health care of union
workers (so called "Cadillac" health care plans).
4) The Wall Street "reform" bill was weak enough to allow Wall Street
to continue acting as it had been before the crisis, thus re-creating
the conditions that will inevitably lead to another crisis.
5) Obama was complicit as Democratic governors attacked the
wages and benefits of public sector union workers across the United
States, rather than raising taxes on the wealthy to handle state
deficits. The continuing attack on public sector unions aims at the
heart of the labor movement.
6) Obama's national deficit reduction plan threatens to cut additional
hundreds of millions of dollars from Medicare and reduce Social
7) Obama's badly named Race-to-the-Top education program is a
direct attack on public education and unionized teachers, since it
rewards states for creating privately administered and non-union
charter schools, while attacking the seniority of union teachers in
publicly administered schools through new "teacher evaluation"
8) Obama pushed to pass the pro-corporate South Korea, Colombia,
and Panama free-trade deals.
9) Obama promised to pass the pro-union Employee Free Choice
Act, but never aggressively promoted it. A broken promise.
10) He promised to renegotiate NAFTA, another broken promise,
because he did not even go through the motions of pretending to try.
11) He promised to make immigration reform a top priority and did
nothing, again without trying.