Richard Trumka

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Richard Trumka is an organized labor leader and current head of the AFL-CIO. He has served the AFL-CIO in leadership since 1995, first as treasurer, and then as President, as of 2009. Prior to his tenure with AFL-CIO, Trumka served as the head of the United Mine Workers. He is heavily involved in labor-centered politics and is a primary power-player in campaign finance, through the AFL-CIO.

Money

Power

  • As head of the AFL-CIO, Trumka wields an impressive grassroots machine. In the 2010 election cycle, the AFL-CIO:
    • Sent 28.6 million pieces of direct mail
    • Mobilized 100,000 volunteers for door-to-door canvassing activities
    • Can openly target up to 13 million union members of voting age
  • Trumka was an early friend of the Obama Administration, named to the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board in 2006.
  • Trumka has often boasted of a “close” relationship with the Obama Administration, admitting that “I’m at the white House a couple times a week — two, three times a week. I have conversations every day with someone in the White House or in the administration. Every day.”
  • Other organizations, such as the Communist Party of America, have emphasized a good working relationship with Trumka on political campaigns.

Background & History

Financial Information

Personal Network

Corporate Influence

Network Interactions

Campaign for America’s Future

Trumka is one of a number of people who helped found the Campaign for America’s Future, a “progressive strategy center” that works to “expose the conservative agenda” following “decades of conservative dominance” and to “forge the enduring progressive majority.” Trumka was one of the original 130 signers on CAF’s founding documents.

The Campaign for America’s Future has other very notable supporters, many from organized labor. It also connects major players within organized labor to other major groups on the left- including major environmental groups -, progressive thinkers in education and in positions of power at major universities, liberal media outlets, and major progressive policy figureheads, like Frances Ford Piven.

Controversies

Congressional Investigations

In the late 1990s, Richard Trumka was implicated in a Congressional investigation into money laundering. Congress instituted the investigation after discovering allegations that then-Teamsters Union President Ron Casey was involved in a scheme to raise $1 million for the Democratic National Committee in return for $100,000 to finance Casey’s re-election to the Teamsters Union presidency. According to Congressional testimony, the Teamsters then paid $150,000 to the AFL-CIO, prompting Richard Trumka, then Treasurer of the organization to release funds to Citizen Action, which in turn provided the necessary resources to the Carey campaign. Carey was eventually re-elected to his position, but his tenure was short. The Teamsters removed him from power in a move presumably related to the investigation.

Richard Trumka was named as a witness to the alleged money-laundering scheme and called before Congress, as were other major political figures including Clinton affiliate Terry McAuliffe. Trumka and McAuliffe were never officially subpoenaed.

Allegations of Excessive Force

In his early days as a labor organizer, Trumka is reported to have encouraged excessive use of force – at times, even physical force – as a means of union agitation. According to the National Right to Work Foundation, many of Trumka’s early efforts at labor negotiations were marked by violence and brutality.

In 1993, in response to an effort to expand mine labor beyond union workers, Trumka issued a union demand ordered approximately 17,000 United Mine Workers members to go on strike. As part of his instructions, Trumka urged the striking minors to “kick the sh*t out of every last one” of their fellow employees who refused to join the striking mine workers’ effort. During that event, several striking UWA workers cut off the power supply to a mine, trapping 93 workers inside. Later that summer, a striking UWA worker shot a non-union minor on his way home from a job site. When guards came to the aid of the victim who had careened off the road in his truck after being struck, 39-year-old Eddie York, eight UWA workers pelted the guards with rocks, hindering emergency services. Trumka did not pursue disciplinary measures against the eight workers.

York’s widow sued Trumka for his part in failing to curb the environment that led to her husband’s death. The suit was settled out of court.

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