Q&A with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

Article excerpt

At a September 2 Monitor breakfast, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka discussed the economic outlook, his union members' feelings about President Obama, and his relations with the Sarah Palin.

Labor leader Richard Trumka became president of the AFL-CIO in 2009 after serving for 15 years as the organization's secretary- treasurer. Earlier, he was president of the United Mine Workers. Mr. Trumka was the guest speaker at the Sept. 2 Monitor breakfast in Washington, D.C. Odds that Republicans will take control of Congress:

"I think they get control of neither body."

If Republicans do take control of the House:

"That means that any chance of progress will be ended. You will go back to the economy that we saw where corporate [America] and Wall Street ran wild. You won't get health and safety laws passed even though miners will continue to be killed.... You won't see constructive legislation. You won't see extensions of unemployment. You won't see job creation.... And you will see the Social Security age [for retiring with full benefits] go up and the benefits go down."

President Obama's focus on the jobs issue:

"I think he has been. And I think he has not effectively communicated it. The problem started whenever he started, in the same sentence, talking about job creation and deficit reduction. He confused people with that and gave credence to the notion that the deficit had to be addressed. Look, we have no short-term deficit problem, we have a long-term deficit problem.... We have a short- term jobs crisis. …