AFL-CIO President Trumka Visits OC on Listening Tour

In what Orange County Labor Federation Executive Director Tefere Gebre says is the first ever vist by a sitting AFL-CIO President, Richard L. Trumka paid a visit to Orange County on Wednesday. He was here following through on his promise, made in September 2009, that following his election he would go out an visit labor councils across the nation and listen to union members personally to build a better understanding of the needs of working men and women in these tough economic times.

Trumka talked about the need for short- and long-term solutions focusing on his immediate short-term five step plan for economic recovery and job creation.

1. Extend the lifeline for jobless workers.
2. Rebuild America’s schools, roads, and energy systems.
3. Increase aid to state and local governments to maintain vital services.
4. Put people to work doing work that needs to be done.
5. Put TARP funds to work on Main Street.

Trumka met with about 70 workers from Orange County unions to hear what they had to say. Rose Nguyen, a member of the United Domestic Workers of America who provide in home health services in Orange County said;

“The state budget and priorities are making it impossible for me and my co-workers to provide needed services to the aged, blind, or disabled Californians who depend on our services to survive day to day. We need an economy that works for all of us not only Wall Street.”

The Orange County Labor Federation represents more than 250,000 workers through their affiliate unions. The meeting on Wednesday was held at the headquarters of the Orange County Employees Association which is both the newest and largest affiliated union in the AFL-CIO.

Trumka doesn’t buy into the frame promoted by anti-labor folks in Orange County that unions are the root of all our economic problems. “When people say that, I don’t buy it and point to the facts. Our workers are better trained and more productive. While they may make higher wages and have better benefits, that enables them to spend more money and stimulate the economy.”

He pointed out that since the mid ’70’s the relative rate of pay for workers in this country has remained stagnant while productivity has increased. The increased productivity of American workers has financially enriched most dramatically those whose earnings fall in the top 1%. Trumka said; “It wasn’t unions that caused the financial crisis, it was Wall Street. It wasn’t unions that caused jobs to be shipped out of the country, it was greed.”

“Currently our laws favor our trading partner, not the American workers,” Trumka explained. “They reward companies that send jobs over seas. Unions help American workers bargain their way into the middle class as opposed to borrowing their way into the middle class. That is why it is so important to the stimulation of our economy that we pass the Employee Free Choice Act this year.”

Trumka’s point is a simple one, union jobs create a better trained and more productive workforce. Union pay and benefits make it possible for workers to spend money on things they need. That stimulates the economy and is the key to economic recovery.

Martin Wisckol from the OC Register has posted this story on Trumka’s visit.

  6 comments for “AFL-CIO President Trumka Visits OC on Listening Tour

  1. Jo
    January 7, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    Passing the Employee Free Choice Act will not stimulate the economy. Small business survives on a narrow profit margin, to add additional demands of unions will destroy those who create jobs critical to economic recovery. Government is bloated and to add additional money will only worsen the problem. To gain union members through coercion and abolishment of the secret ballot is contrary to our American ideals. This is nothing but a power grab by individuals who are determined to destroy our freedoms. Unions only take money from their workers, underfund promised pensions, and pour money into political lobbying which for the most part is inconsistent with membership desires. Unions do protect underperformers much to the expense of those who perform, consistent with redistribution ideology. Unions, like large government function with massive rules, contracts which stymies creativity and innovation. To stimulate the economy it is best to have union and non union business competition, this serves as a check and balance and promotes creativity and innovation for market share. California is in dire financial straits due to inability to meet demands of unions and entitlement programs. If Mr Trumpka want to do something, have him ask California politicians to turn on the water in the San Joaquin Valley so the farmers can go back to work.

  2. junior
    January 7, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    Yo – yo – yo – give it up for Jo !!

    You nailed it again JO.

  3. StevefromSacto
    January 8, 2010 at 10:29 am

    “It wasn’t unions that caused the financial crisis, it was Wall Street. It wasn’t unions that caused jobs to be shipped out of the country, it was greed.”


    • Jo
      January 8, 2010 at 2:02 pm

      Unions are just as culpable as Wall Street. I blame greedy union bosses and leaders who promised workers the sun, moon and stars. These leaders, by their strong arm demands essentially drive business out of the country and government to its knees. In New York State for example many government workers have cadillac health care plans (just like the UAW) that covers cosmetic surgery. So these workers can have a body part redone on a yearly basis, this causes lost productivity and asociated costs and also increases cost to cover absent employees. This drives up the cost of health care for everyone and lack of healthcare for many- this is greed. Wall Street greedily took advantage of the community reinvestment act which Barney Frank promoted which gave mortgages to people who could not afford to pay for them. Now our corrupt congress is following in the footsteps of greedy unions and Wall Street through reckless spending and a debt that will take generations to recover. We are now printing money.

    • Dan
      January 11, 2010 at 9:25 pm

      I agree with Steve. Why does this country allow the importation of goods not manufactured under the same labor and environmental rules and regulations as we have here? How can we compete otherwise? The answer of course is we can’t. American labor, and business has been taking a terrible beating as a result.

      It’s akin to our own revolutionary war where the British had to fight by rules of engagement by marching in a straight line while wearing bright red uniforms. The Americans on the other hand, wore buckskin clothes and hid behind trees and rocks. The British took a beating as a result and we are taking a beating due to another sort unleveled playing field.

      • Jo
        January 13, 2010 at 9:52 am

        Unions are in bed with corporations, bankers and political elite in order to usher in the new world order. Andrew Stern of the SEIU stated “workers of the world unite”, he knows there isn’t much more to suck out of the US and wans to go global. The UAW squanders membership money on lobbying and then can not honor pensions and then goes to big daddy government for bailout at the expense of taxpayers. The agenda is to pit union vs nonunion, rich vs poor, left vs right to destroy our current system of governement in order to gain more power and money. Once this country takes away all our freedoms, we will be on the way to serfdom or financial slavery at the beck and call of political elite globalists. The climate change religion is one of the tools used to achieve that goal.

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