- Share your favorite videos with friends
- Comment on videos and join the conversation
- Get personalized recommendations
- Enjoy exclusive offers
Purchased a FORA.tv video on another website? Login here with the temporary account credentials included in your receipt.
Sign up today to receive our weekly newsletter and special announcements.
MODERATOR: Our guest today is Richard Trumka, President of the AFL- CIO. His last visit with the group was also a pre Labor Day occasion in 2009. Just over a year ago, Mr. Trumka was elected President at the AFL's Convention in Pittsburgh. He grew up in the Pennsylvania coal fields and followed his father and grandfather into the mines. He worked his way through Penn State and earned a law degree from Villanova. In 1982 at age 33, he was elected President of the UMW. The youngest in its history. He served three terms as the president and brought the united mine workers into the AFL-CIO. In 1995, he ran as Secretary Treasurer Ticket led by John Sweeney. He was elected and held that position for 15 years. On Monday, our guess and the President will be speak at a Labor Day event in Milwaukee expected to draw some 10,000 people. [00:00:51] So much for biography. Now onto the thrilling process portion of our program. As always, we're on the record. There's no embargo when the session. Please no live blogging or twittering. In short, no filing while the breakfast is under way. After the session is over, feel free to submit to your unbridled multi media urges. With the goal of maintaining the breakfast reputation of (inaudible at 00:01:12) such as it is, if you'd like to ask a question, please do the traditional thing and send me a subtle, non threatening signal and I'll happily call on one and all. We'll start by offering our guest the opportunity to make some brief opening comments. And then we'll move to questions from around the table. Thanks again for doing this sir. RICHARD TRUMKA: Well first of all, thanks for having me in again. I very much appreciate it. And thank you to everyone here for coming. And let me start off by wishing everybody a Happy Labor Day a little early. Last year when I was here, I talked to you about the economy and about the need for continued stimulus, about our fear that people would begin and governments would bring to pull back too quickly and threaten the recovery. I come to you today with the same fear that they have begun to pull back too quickly. Not necessarily voluntarily but because of the bipartisanship that we see up on the House. And so the recovery right now is in jeopardy. [00:02:13] The extraordinary spending that we've seen from the federal government is being currently negated by the contraction of state and local governments such that we were fearful that up to 900,000 teachers, firefighters and police officers would have been laid off but for the additional aid to state and local government. (inaudible at 00:02:37) was passed roughly three or four weeks ago. So we have a fragile economy that has 15 million people unemployed, another 11 million underemployed and we have a group - a populous that is pretty frustrated and angry because more isn't being done to create job in this country. And that's where we sit as this Labor Day comes around. And with that, I think I'll just stop and we can talk about it. [00:03:09] MODERATOR: It's a miracle of concision for which we thank you. Let me ask you too and then we'll go to (inaudible at 00:03:13) and John Dickerson to start. Let me do sort of a traditional question about the state of the labor movement. With all due respect to you for coming and we do appreciate it. It would seem to be grim - a decline in membership, union workers about 12.3 percent of the salaried work force, a Democratic controlled government reluctant to extend jobless benefits and growing public concern about paying benefits for government workers. What do you find to get out of the bed in the morning about? RICHARD TRUMKA: (Laughs) Well actually there's a lot of good to say. If you look at it, this president has created more jobs since he's been president in a recession than George Bush did in eight years before that. And we also have a president that cares about the health and safety of workers. He's appointed quality people to the Department of Labor who are now actually enforcing health and safety laws for workers under (inaudible at 00:04:10) and OSHA. [00:04:11] We've been able to rein in Wall Street. They had a 30 year rein where our wages had - well for 30 years the economy hadn't been working for working people. So for the last 30 Labor Days, I mean we would get up and say this isn't quite working for us. We need to change. And in the 90s, we started predicting - we being labor - started predicting what would happen. Not that we're proud that it did happen but it did. And so we reined in Wall Street. We have a chance to create right now an economy that really does work for everyone. [00:04:50] And quite frankly, David, that's I guess what this election is all about in our opinion. It's about whether we'll go forward with an economy that works with everyone or whether we'll go back to the policies that led to wage stagnation and where Corporate America and Wall Street ran wild. Our goal is to go forward and keep building on an economy that does create those jobs. In order to do that, we're going to have to see GDP growth north of 4 percent and to create the jobs that fill the hole even north of 5 percent. So. MODERATOR: Which you don't see on the horizon any time soon I assume. RICHARD TRUMKA: Well not tomorrow. MODERATOR: (inaudible at 00:05:31) yesterday. Since we - RICHARD TRUMKA: But - MODERATOR: Since we all live and die by clicks, I'm going to ask you a Sarah Palin question. (Laughter) MODERATOR: You gave a speech last week in Anchorage saying that "Sarah Palin will go down in history like McCarthy". That's a quote. And adding "Palinism will become an ugly word". She, of course, called you a career union boss who spent most of his life in D.C. So my question is; how does picking a fight with Sarah Palin fight in with what you told the Associated Press in early August quote "We have to save our anger for the Corporate lapdogs who made this mess and the Republicans in the Senate who are determined to keep us in it"? [00:06:11] RICHARD TRUMKA: They're totally consistent because first of all, I spent more time in the mine than she did as governor I might add but - (Laughter) RICHARD TRUMKA: We won't go into that. (Laughter) RICHARD TRUMKA: I served a whole term there as a matter of fact. (Laughter) RICHARD TRUMKA: What I said was back then was that there's a danger that the anger, the frustration that people are feeling will get turned into rage, hatred and ultimately violence. I recant or recalled that when John Kennedy was getting off the plane in Dallas, there were people that were on the radio that were talking about advocating violence towards him. And that happened. [00:06:54] And what I said about Sarah Palin was that she has a responsibility with the position that she's in. She's taken on a position of leadership. And whether it's rightfully given to her or not, she's there. And so she can't use loose language that (inaudible at 00:07:11) additional changing that anger to hatred or that action to violence. And that she needs to do that. And if she doesn't change her ways that Palinism will be acquitted by other forms of McCarthyism that (inaudible at 00:07:28) vision among the populous and actually hatred among the populous. So they're very, very consistent. MODERATOR: Ed. ED: This is another getting out of bed in the morning question. (inaudible at 00:07:41) into the election efforts and probably not zero chances now (inaudible at 00:07:50). RICHARD TRUMKA: I disagree with that assumption but okay. [00:07:54] ED: Okay. (inaudible at 00:07:55). RICHARD TRUMKA: I disagree with that. ED: Do you feel as enthused about this election as you did the previous two? RICHARD TRUMKA: More so because look, as I said, for 30 years the policies of this country we adopted with Reagan coming forward a low wage high consumption strategy. That's the strategy that we adopted. We now know that that doesn't work. That low wage high consumption strategy has punished workers, stagnated our wages, taken benefits away from us. We're now moving away from that strategy because it doesn't work. So that's what this election's all about. It's about whether we're going to continue to go forward or whether we're going to revert back as John Boehner would like to do back to where we give more tax cuts to the very rich, that we cut Social Security. We raise the age of retirement and we take benefits. So there's a lot out there for our members to be excited about. [00:08:58] I just talked to the - one of our presidents in Arkansas yesterday. And, Blanche Lincoln had appeared before the - our AFL-CIO in Arkansas and asked for the endorsement. And they did not give it to her. But the fight that we went through in Arkansas - and by the way, it's our second lowest density state in the country. He has more volunteers now for a woman by the name of Joyce Elliott who's running for Congress than he's ever had before. It's actually energized them and got them going. We're starting to see massive numbers of people come out in Ohio. And I just talked this morning to my guy that's in Ohio. We have more volunteers out there. We've already talked to a million - 750,000 workers (inaudible at 00:09:55) at work sites. In July, we started off. We hit it in August. RICHARD TRUMKA: We're growing every day. And the amount of enthusiasm picks up - right after Labor Day, it'll pick up even more. DAVID: John. JOHN: Just quickly, was that an Ohio number or the national number at that one that you -? RICHARD TRUMKA: That was a national number right now. JOHN: What would you - I guess it's a double question. In terms of future policies, what would you like to see the president talk specifically on Monday? And in general (inaudible at 00:10:27) that the Democrats are in control, labor will get? And then maybe more broadly or (inaudible at 00:10:35) what would you like to hear the president say or spin the criticism from his supporters that he's kind of been slowly getting on the field with this election? Labor Day, it could pick it traditionally of the final sprint of the election. What would you like to hear him say on Monday? RICHARD TRUMKA: Well, I'd like to hear him say what he said just a few weeks ago. First of all, that he said that if I were a coal mine; I'd join the union. If I were a teacher; I'd join a union. The workers ought to join unions. I mean that's one thing I'd like to hear him say. [00:11:08] I'd like to hear him talk about here's the policy stuff - three of them - jobs, jobs and more jobs because that's the issue that's out there. That's what's on everybody's mind, jobs. And there's a number of things right now that I think the Democrats can be doing between now and Election Day actually to help create that jobs or at least help define whose on worker's side and who isn't. You've got the transportation Reauthorization Act. You have the Clean Water Act. You have the Clean Energy Act. All of those are infrastructure and job creators that can be put down very easily. And you get to decide if you're going to be for job creation or if you're not. [00:11:50] Because what we've seen so far from the Republican Party with Boehner and McConnell is they say no to everything. But they have offered nothing to say here's what I'm for. And I said this before and I'll say it again, we can't be something with nothing. And they've offered nothing except the three things that they have said that they will do are increase taxes. I mean increase tax breaks for the very rich. They'll continue that. They will increase the age of retirement and they'll cut benefits for Social Security. And so on Monday we'd like to hear him talk about jobs creation and where this country is going. MODERATOR: Susan. QUESTIONER: You've watched politics for some time. What's your expectation of, what are the odds that Republicans win control of the House? RICHARD TRUMKA: I think they'll have control of neither body. Because I said you can't beat something with nothing. And when you talk to workers out there, they're frustrated. And people misconstrue their frustration with the Democratic agenda. They're mad and angry because not enough is being done, not because too much is being done. [0:13:07] So that, when we talk to our members, when we talk to them in phone banks, when we talk to them at the door step, they're concerned about who's going to create jobs. I think the Democrats are working with that. And this will be race by race. This isn't going to be like you run against Nancy Pelosi and you'll sweep the House. This will be race by race. And whenever a candidate has to offer who's on worker time, and who isn't, that's who will win the race. And our job is to make sure that our members have the fact who's on their side and who isn't. QUESTIONER: When you look at some of the nation polling (inaudible at [0:13:49]) are you unhappy with the direction of the country - generic ballot questions, there are a lot of similarities to 2006 and 1994, both being tide (ph) elections. Do you think those parallels don't apply this year? RICHARD TRUMKA: Well if you look at the, what's happened to Republicans - if that was the case, you would expect Republican incumbents to be winning. Republican incumbents have been losing. And (inaudible at [0:14:10]) had a race where they tried their national strategy, that strategy, run against Pelosi, the Pennsylvania 12th, the republicans lost. Because the Democrat talked about outsourcing, about job creation - those types of things, and (inaudible) won. I happen to know that district is my home district as a matter of fact. QUESTIONER: How long were you in the mine? You said you served (inaudible). RICHARD TRUMKA: Seven and a half years. A little longer than (inaudible at [0:14:38]). Melanie? QUESTIONER: The National Labor Relations Board is taking up cases, reviewing old cases, and one of the things they're looking at is the amount of time after the election (inaudible) ways that could reverse, that could decertify (inaudible). I wonder if these cases that they're taking up, and come to the (inaudible) can have a significant impact on organizing and increasing opportunities for workers to organize? Do you think they'll have a significant impact, especially as we're not the Employee Free Choice Act pass (inaudible). RICHARD TRUMKA: The National Labor Relations Board have rules that they pass through formulation of rules (inaudible at [0:15:37]) and also by cases. They impact dramatically the ability to organize. During the Bush years they overturned 40-some years of precedent in an attempt to make organizing more and more and more and more difficult if not virtually impossible. So coming back to the notion - you need to understand this - and everybody understands (inaudible at [0:16:03]) the law of the land isn't to tolerate collective bargaining. The law of the land says that the government will encourage the process of collective bargaining. George Bush hardly encouraged the process of collective bargaining. Maybe this board will come closer to that. QUESTIONER (inaudible at [0:16:28]). RICHARD TRUMKA: I don't think that they can stretch the law that far. And it takes (inaudible). Although they can make things more fair for workers. Dramatically more fair. MODERATOR: We're going to go next to Craig Gilbert, Jim Barnes, Jill Lawrence and Brian (inaudible at [0:16:40]). Craig - CRAIG GILBERT: You talked about wanting to hear the president on Monday talk about jobs jobs jobs. Do you think he's laser focused on jobs and do you think he's been successful communicating that (inaudible at [0:16:54]). RICHARD TRUMKA: You know I think he has been and I think he has not effectively communicated it. And I think he started 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 a short term deficit problem. We have a long term deficit problem. We do not have a short term deficit problem, we have a short term jobs crisis. And had he said it like that originally I think it would have been a lot easier to make the case. [0:17:32] He didn't, and I think he's not changing that. And I think his economic advisors understand the importance of job creation, and I think they're all out there right now talking about it. As late as this morning, Christine Romer, with her parting shots that we need a second stimulus package. And I'll talk about this stimulus package if you're interested in it. QUESTIONER: We're interested. So what do you think they can actually get through - they can actually get through Congress? [0:17:58] RICHARD TRUMKA: Let's go back to the first one, first. When we were doing the first stimulus package, everybody thought that unemployment wouldn't go beyond 8 percent. And at that time we said that if unemployment's going to go to 8 percent, we need a stimulus package of about a trillion three or a trillion four to solve the problem. Well the Republicans pounced on that. And they cut it down - we couldn't get the votes to get anything. We ended up with $776 billion dollars worth - which is sizable, but everybody knew it wasn't big enough to solve the problem at 8 percent, let alone 10 percent. [0:18:39] So then it was bifurcated in three different ways, even at that. One-third of it went to infrastructure, which is important and we have an infrastructure deficit - infrastructure creates jobs; much more of it should have gone to infrastructure. A third of it went to tax cuts to the middle class, which is important but they don't even know they got a tax cut because of the way it was given out. The Republicans would have had banners, they would have had a notice in every check, "You got a tax cut." [0:19:13] The Democrats parceled out $25 allotments and most Americans don't' even know they got a tax cut. And that took one third. And by the way, tax cuts? For every dollar in tax cuts you get about $1.04 of economic activity. To give you some comparison, $1.00 of food stamps, you get $1.74 of economic activity. So for that 1/3 of that already through the small stimulus packageit was in the taxit's the third part was aid to state and the local government. And that was important, because the states were starting to contract. And if the federal government was increasing spending and they were decreasing spending, all it did is negate each other. And now that's almost where we are right now. The federal government spending is being negated or counteracted by the contraction of state and local governments. [0:20:07] So you with that in mind, we started off with a stimulus package that was too small to solve the problem. And why was it too small? This is what I love about the Republicans on this one. It's like having a sick patient, and the doctor says, "Here. You have to take five doses of chemo to get rid of this cancer that you have." And they say, "No, we're only going to give you two doses." And after two doses it doesn't get rid of the chemo they say, "Well it didn't work. It didn't get rid of the cancer." Well of course it didn't, because it took five doses and you only gave them two doses. And that's what we saw with the original stimulus. And we have fought every bit along the way. We had a five-point program that we said was necessary to stimulate the economy. [0:21:01] First of it was infrastructure. And what we said, there was a even the infrastructure was after, I think was done in a way that could have been a lot better. The infrastructure money that was out there, you had the project had to be completed within 18 months. So that meant the big projects that could go on couldn't get any stimulus money. They had to be small stimulus projects that were completed in 18 months. If we would have committed to a longer term to say, "We're going to commit to infrastructure for ten years," then we sort of would have started crowding in some public or private investment as well. So our thing first was infrastructure. The second thing was increasing or an extension of the unemployment benefits, because you have got six and a half million people out there that are unemployed for six months or longer. If you take that money away from six and a half million people and they stop spending, it has a dramatic effectslowing effect or dragon the economy. So it was necessary to keep them in the consumer game. [0:22:10] The third thing was aid to state and local governments. We didn't get anywhere near what we think is necessary but enough to keep that moping along. The fourth thing that we have talked about was some directed job creation, for the federal government to look at areas where you have high unemployment rate and parted (ph) jobs. I'll give you an example. They go into an area with high unemployment in a school district where the children are having a tough time. And they could have hired tutors in that school district. The tutors help with the schools, they help with the children, bring up scores and at the same time create an income flow for the community that would have helped with the local economy. And then the fifth thing that we have advocated is to take TARP moneywhat was left over and the money that's been paid backget it into the hands of regional banks so they can begin lending more to small and midsize banks or small and midsize businesses so that they could do job creation in those areas. [0:23:16] And we have seen some of all of those and none of all of them where we would say enough. So we find ourselves right now where you have four drivers of the economy. The biggest driver is consumer spending. That's 72 percent of the economy is driven by consumer spending. With people who don't have money, they can't spend. Their wages are flat. They are afraid to spend. Our saving rate right now is actually higher than it was before because people are afraid to spend. The second one is business investment. Even though we have seen record profits the last two quarters by corporate America, and they are sitting on a couple of trillion dollars, they are not spending because aggregate demand is down. And if you have got you are only using 75 percent of the capacity of your existing plant, you probably are not going to add onto that plant everywhere. So business investment isn't driving. [0:24:17] The third driver is net exports. We haven't seen net exports since Casey came to bat a number of years ago. And we are not likely to because of the bad policies that we have. And the fourth is government spending. And as I said earlier, the problem with that is the federal spending is being negated by the states right now. So you have got an economy that needs priming, and every economist out there will tell you that and would like to see another promo (ph). And you can use it you can use the Surface Transportation Act. You can use the Clean Water Act. You can use the Clean Energy Act. You could use guaranteed loans for some of the power plants that are out there that need to be built. All of those could become job bills that would help us with the economy right now. Mr. (Barnes)? [0:25:15] QUESTIONER: We are just hitting the debate over extending the Bush tax cuts tomorrow. Some Democrats say, well, it doesn't make sense to raise taxes on anybody, as the economy is struggling. And even more Democrats say, "We'd really rather not have this issue. We don't fight out right before the elections. We have got other things that we want to fight on." And you see some Democrats saying, "Let's just extend them for everybody for a year." Ho do you feel about that approach? RICHARD TRUMKA: I don't think it's going to happen. And I think we are if you look at the deficit that they are crowing about or complaining about long term, 60 percent of it is because of those tax cuts that Bush did. So there is only two ways to get rid of those deficits. One is job creation, and the other is revenue enhancement. [0:26:09] The rich have done exceptionally well. Their income has dramatically increased over the last couple of years over the last decade, while the working American's income is not only stagnated; over the last several years it's actually going down. And so I think this is fair that they and that Wall Street pay their fair share. Wall Street destroyed 11 million jobs with their recklessness. There is ways that they could pay, and it would never hurt anything. A quarter of a penny financial transaction tax would raise a significant amount of money that we could use for job creation, and it wouldn't show up. It would stop some of the speculation that they do, where they buy in the morning, sell at noon, buy at 2:00, sell at 3:00, buy at 4:00, sell at 5:00. All that churning, probably some of that would slow down. But we'd create a lot of money for job creation. [0:27:00] QUESTIONER: So would you oppose that approach? RICHARD TRUMKA: Which approach? QUESTIONER: With the approach of let's just extend the tax cuts for everyone for a year. RICHARD TRUMKA: Yes. QUESTIONER: And if Democrats supported that approach, how would your organization feel about it? RICHARD TRUMKA: Well we wouldn't like it. (Laughter) QUESTIONER: Would you pull back? I mean, campaign support for Democrats who advocate that? RICHARD TRUMKA: Look. Let's assume you and your wife do you have a wife? QUESTIONER: No. RICHARD TRUMKA: No? (Laughter) Well you're luckymaybe. I don't know. (Laughter) Let's assume me and my wife. We have been around for a long time together. And occasionallyperfect as I amI do things that she doesn't like. Fortunately for me she has never said, "You're outta here." I mean I don't think friends treat friends that way. You can have a legitimate disagreement over an issue and not say, "We are severing our relationship." [0:28:04] I don't operate under the notion of threatening people with stuff. I don't like to operate that way because I don't like to be dealt with that way. We fight over an issue, but people can still be our friends over things. And it depends on the issue. Some issues are more important than others. And if they we disagree over things, we disagree over them. We give them our best shot, and then our members make the decision. I don't decide who we support for senator in, you know, Arkansas. I didn't make that decision. Our members in Arkansas said, "We are not supporting Blanche Lincoln. We are supporting Bill Halter." And then Blanche Lincoln came back in the general and they still said, "We are not supporting her." So those decisions come from our members, and we give our members the facts. And then based on all that someone has done, we make a decision on whether they are good for working people or not good for working people. [0:29:04] In other words, we don't use litmus tests very often. I'm not saying never, but not very often. QUESTIONER: Can I just follow up on his? And then I have some of my own. RICHARD TRUMKA: Sure. QUESTIONER: Somebody threw out the idea of letting the tax the lower rates stay in place for a year but writing the law that the upper income ones would be phased out in three years over three years. Would that be an acceptable compromise for you? RICHARD TRUMKA: Look, I am not going to unless you can come to an agreement with me, I am not going to negotiate with you here at the table. If you can say we come to an agreement that's what it'll be, then I'll negotiate with you. But I'm not used to doing that. I've told you what our position is. We will fight for that position. And will we change that position? Who knows? QUESTIONER: Okay. Well my question is, in your membership do you how is the president doing? Does he have the same level of support as other Democratic presidents have had? Or are you seeing any kind of a Tea Party sensibility in the AFL-CIO orI hate to say this, but you yourself gave a speechabout any kind of a race factor? You gave a really good speech about that during the campaign. [0:30:15] RICHARD TRUMKA: Yes. That was back in, I think, probably July before the election. And, you know, I at that time I saw some reluctance for people to support him. And what I tried to do with that speech is create space so that our members - our leadership, particularly the middle and lower-level leadership, could actually get out and do that, get away from the reluctance. And fortunately it created that space. Because I really believe that we in labor I mean we have a special obligation to address and to confront racism, homophobia and a number of different prejudices like that. [0:31:01] So we did, and fortunately for us it worked. Our members voted 2 percent more for Barack Obama than they did for John Kerry. So it we were successful in getting that done. You know, there is frustration with our members, and there is anger with our membersand rightfully sobecause this economy really hasn't worked for them. The rules of the last 30 yearsthe low-wage, high-consumption society ruleshaven't worked for workers. They work for people at the very top, those people that got the tax break the last time. But they haven't worked for the rest of us. But at the same time our members look at it and they say, "Look at the hand that the guy has been dealt. The guy comes in and he has got an economy in the tank; it's about to go into depression. He's got a banking system that's about to implode. He's got two new wars to take on. He brings the economy back from the brink of disaster. He reforms the banking system and Wall Street somewhat. He passes a health and a healthcare billnot the bill that I would have passed, but a solid step in the right direction [in bringing people help] (ph). He appoints people to the Department of Labor that actually enforce the law to protect our health and safety, to protect our wages on fair labor standards. And he creates and eliminates the misclassification of people so they can't get cheated out of wages. He's working on different things." [0:32:34] And I think they start to understand that he's trying real hard. He's got a determined opposition. And you have got to ask they ask themselves, "Why isn't action being taken?" And we are supplying them with the facts. We are letting them know who's been on their side and who hasn't been on their side. And I have got to say that Barack Obama has been on the side of working people. I say that without hesitation. And I think most of our members say that. [0:33:05] Now does that mean that there isn't still racism out there and some of the actions of a lot of people aren't motivated by race? I'm not going to say that, because I think some of it is motivated by race. QUESTIONER: But in terms of, you know, the Tea Party type anger where it's kind of thrown the confidence (ph) out. Do you think AFL-CIO is going to have more of that than usual? RICHARD TRUMKA: No. I think well, you know, when I have been out in the field I just was in 6-1/2 I was just in six states in a week and a half talking to members from Milwaukee to or Minneapolis to Portland to Alaska to Chicago to St. Louis talking to members, leafleting at the sites. And you find a lot of questions. You don't find that same type of anger about that. [0:33:59] They are concerned about jobs. They are concerned about the economy. They are concerned about their pensions. They are concerned about who is on their side. And we are giving them the facts. When they get the facts, this is a pretty clear decision. There is those that stand for pushing the economy forward in the direction we want to see it go. And there is those that want to go back to where it was in the eight in the 2000s, where Wall Street really did run wild. And our members understand that. Priam (ph)? QUESTIONER: I have a 9/11 question. The James Zadroga healthcare bill has not passed. RICHARD TRUMKA: The what? QUESTIONER: The healthcare bill for the first responders. RICHARD TRUMKA: 9/11. QUESTIONER: 9/11. RICHARD TRUMKA: Yes. QUESTIONER: Volunteers RICHARD TRUMKA: Yes. QUESTIONER: which is pending in Congress. But the union members lobbying on the Hill, they have responded for passage of that. Also, I was you know, I wanted to know what - the controversy about the mosque and the Islamic cultural center. And they are calling it an outrage about that and, you know, the sanctity of Ground Zero, this whole issue. Will it help passage of that bill? Or is that a totally different issue? [0:35:18] RICHARD TRUMKA: It should have absolutely no effect, because look. You can't claim the you can't call people a bunch of heroes when they rushed in, in harm's way, but whenever it comes time to do something to help them and then say, "But we are not doing that because you support some kind of mosque." I don't know whether the people who would benefit by 9/11 do or don't. It doesn't matter to metotally irrelevant. It has nothing to do with it. And anybody that tries to link them together, it's a hoax. It's an excuse for them not owning up and doing what's right. Passing that bill is the American thing to do. You want to call them heroes? Then treat them like heroes. [0:35:58] It's like people that go to Iraq and Iran. They say, "Oh, they are heroes, and we support the troops." And then they come home and they lay them off. They take their healthcare away. They take their pensions away. That's about less patriotic than anything I know. So what we are talking about in this Labor Day is about economic patriotismabout creating jobs here, about taking care of workers here and doing all this stuffeconomic patriotism, not corporate traders that will do what's in their best interest even if it's not in the best interest America (ph). QUESTIONER: Do you think it still could be coming a lot (inaudible at 0:36:37) because it would cover normal citizens and that and this the immigration RICHARD TRUMKA: I mean that's another [red if] (ph). You know, who the heck knows what it would do? But I know what. I know it covers the heroes, those who were there. There is no question about that. And if you have got any questions, take care of them. It's all about not doing things and finding excuses for not doing things. [0:37:01] And that's why you see the anger. That's why the American people are angry. Because in the Republicans have sacrificed real job solutions for (inaudible at 0:37:14) politics. American workers aren't dumb. They know that. They see it. That's why they are not going to go rushing to them in this election and say, "Hallelujah! The savior has come on a white horse." QUESTIONER: Why is it taking Congress so long to get around to this issue? RICHARD TRUMKA: I have no idea. I am as frustrated about that as anybody. I have talked to people, and every single person I have talked to says they are in favor of it. And yet it hasn't happened. It should have happened years ago. And we are going to make sure it happens between now and election. We are going to push with everything we have to get that bill passed because it's the right thing to do. (Jim)? QUESTIONER: President Trumka? RICHARD TRUMKA: Just Rick, please. [0:37:57] QUESTIONER: Just getting back to you spoke a little bit earlier, you know, friends and friends, they get into disagreements. And you have also been worrying, obviously, with a Republican takeover of Congress, Speaker (inaudible at 0:38:12) for the labor movement. Has there been any thought about helping some of the Democrats you have kind of [weighed off the reservation] (ph) of voting against the healthcare bill, such that I mean House Democrats who are labor-heavy states like Pennsylvania or just outlier (ph) states of Ohio?people like that who could really I mean labor could make a big difference in the election. Is there any thought that helping these guys could keep the Democratic majority in play? RICHARD TRUMKA: We are going to play in 26 states. That's where we're going to be. We're going to be in over 70 House races. We'll be in 18 Senate races. We'll be in a number of governors' races, a number of state legislature races. All in all, we'll be in 400 races. [00:39:02] I don't know whether they're one of them - he's one of them or not. But we're going to be in a lot of those races where are friends are needed. We're going to be there working to help them get elected. QUESTIONER: Do you still consider - I mean some of those House Democrats who voted against the healthcare bill, friends that'll help your help in this coming election? RICHARD TRUMKA: Yeah. I do. MODERATOR: Christina. QUESTIONER: Some. (Laughter) QUESTIONER: Okay. CHRISTINA: So I was wondering, you talk a lot about sort of Democrats should run their (inaudible at 00:39:34) whose on the side of the worker, the middle class, but (inaudible at 00:39:40) a lot about (inaudible at 00:39:44) the crazy (inaudible at 00:39:45) not talking a lot about you know what they could do (inaudible at 00:39:51). So how do you balance that? What advice would you give the Democrats on the sort of strategy they should run? Should they be talking about the Republicans and running against Republicans or should they be talking about Democrats and (inaudible at 00:40:05)? [00:40:05] RICHARD TRUMKA: You know look, to give advice for all those races would be (inaudible at 00:40:12). What they ought to be doing is going back and saying here's what we're going to try to say. We're going to try to press that Transportation Reauthorization Act, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Energy Act because those are going to create jobs. Do you want to be with it or against it? If you're not with it, tell me what you're going to do to create jobs. And don't tell me again you're going to cut taxes on the rich and that's going to create jobs. You've said that for 30 years and it hasn't worked. It's the same tired, old mantra that you come up with. So, what are you for if not for this? That would be my advice. CHRISTINA: And should they sort of frame the issue that they - Speaker Boehner verses Speaker Pelosi who talked about the nationalization (ph) of these races and the fact that it's race by race? [00:40:57] RICHARD TRUMKA: I think if - I hope that the Republicans run against Speaker Pelosi. I hope they do because they will lose. Because people are not going - they didn't - look at the 12th, look at the other district, they don't respond to that. They vote on the candidate that's there and what that candidate is going to do for them. (inaudible at 00:41:21) Can I get some tea? MODERATOR: Sure. QUESTIONER: I just (inaudible at 00:41:26) into the NGA (inaudible at 00:41:27) saying that - RICHARD TRUMKA: To who? QUESTIONER: The N - the National Government's Association. RICHARD TRUMKA: Oh. QUESTIONER: And they were saying that their (inaudible at 00:41:33) in 2011 and 2012 will be even rougher at the state level (inaudible at 00:41:38) up to this point. So, when I talked to the individual states about how they're trying to balance their budgets, they're basically saying either that we need to see more benefit shrinkage and on the part of the workers or we're going to have to cut more jobs. We can't do both. So they - [00:42:00] RICHARD TRUMKA: Well wait a second. There's other alternatives as well. QUESTIONER: Well I think the big thing - RICHARD TRUMKA: Like growing the economy, like job creation, those type of things. QUESTIONER: I think that in short run, they don't think that's going to happen. When they look at their - at the cuts that they've made already, it's clear to them that they're going to have - that something big is actually (inaudible at 00:42:19). So are you involved in negotiations at the state level? Are you counseling state employees about how to preserve jobs in this (inaudible at 00:42:33)? RICHARD TRUMKA: Generally I'm not. Generally that's done by our affiliates in their unions. On occasion, a governor will ask me to get involved in those thoughts if he thinks or she thinks that I can be helpful in the process. But generally that's done by our affiliates and their local people. QUESTIONER: And are you giving them any general advice on this about what's more important (inaudible at 00:42:59) more jobs or -? [00:43:00] RICHARD TRUMKA: Recently they haven't - they haven't asked for any this week. MODERATOR: Bill. BILL: Getting back to (inaudible at 00:43:06). There have been some groups and individuals who go about with petitions urging (inaudible at 00:43:13) not to participate in building of the center. Does the union have a position on that? RICHARD TRUMKA: I'm sorry. BILL: I'm sorry. I talk fast and - RICHARD TRUMKA: Well you need to talk a little louder (inaudible at 00:43:24). BILL: Okay. There have been some groups and some individuals who have been trying to petition union members in New York urging them not to participate in any construction of the Islamic Center and Mosque near Ground Zero. Does the union have a position on that? RICHARD TRUMKA: You know look, any attempt right now. These are all attempts to get the nation's attention away from the real issue. The real issue is job creation and the environment. You know look, everyone that the Coke industries, the gas and oil company and the boy brothers fund the tea party so that they can (inaudible at 00:44:06) and try to get workers to divide themselves. And we're not going to let that happen. I mean that's not an issue. [00:44:13] If that Mosque is or isn't built, who goes back to work in Pennsylvania? It's an issue that the right as (inaudible at 00:44:24) to try to take the focus off of their lack of economic policies. They don't have an economic solution. We're not going to get sidetracked by that. The issue is jobs, jobs, jobs and more jobs. And that's what we're focused on. MODERATOR: Paul. PAUL: I was wondering how your wife would answer the question; do you have a husband? (Laughter) RICHARD TRUMKA: She would say not a very good one. (Laughter) PAUL: A lot of what you've raised today for the Chamber of Commerce is also raised especially on exports. RICHARD TRUMKA: I'm sorry. [00:44:56] PAUL: A lot of what you've raised today from the job creation has been some of the concerns also raised by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce namely exports. Let's get those exports up. And they think they can create 20 million jobs or so. Do you have - what's your relationship with the Chamber? Do you - are you talking to them, meeting with them and trying to get them onboard your (inaudible at 00:45:20) or them on yours? RICHARD TRUMKA: Well I had lunch with Tom Donohue yesterday. PAUL: Where? RICHARD TRUMKA: Is that really relevant? At the Equinox if you must know. And we talked about the infrastructure. We talked about job creation and ways we can work together to create infrastructure, meet the infrastructure needs (inaudible at 00:45:48). And so, we'll see. It was a good first meeting. And hopefully something fruitful will come out of it. Because I think if both of us can come together on issues like infrastructure creation and job creation then I think that some good things can happen. [00:46:08] MODERATOR: Francine, were you waving at me? FRANCINE: Yeah, I was. MODERATOR: Go for it. FRANCINE: In a nonthreatening manner. MODERATOR: Thank you. RICHARD TRUMKA: You can do it in a threatening manner. MODERATOR: That's right. (Laughter) RICHARD TRUMKA: From this distance. MODERATOR: Yeah. (Laughter) FRANCINE: I'd like to get back to the question (inaudible at 00:46:23) a little bit with the National Governor's Association of looking to payroll to - for budget cuts and stuff. One thing I've just noticed from my own experience is as government has begun to look at the benefits' packages and their claim to public employees; a lot of those details of the benefits are coming out. And, people who aren't public employees are like wow, that's pretty good. Why don't I have that? And I wondered - RICHARD TRUMKA: Because you work for a newspaper, that's why. [00:46:57] (Laughter) FRANCINE: Yeah. I was wondering whether you see any legitimate truth in the sense that labor has demanded so much over the last 30 years, has gotten - RICHARD TRUMKA: What -? FRANCINE: Pretty nice benefits in health and pension and so on that non union members don't have and whether now it's harder to maintain its position in hanging onto those things because of that difference between what a union employee has and what a non union employee has? RICHARD TRUMKA: I'm a little amazed that you would say that. A CEO's salary has gone up dramatically. CEOs of this country's salary is so far out of touch with the rest of the world. And yet you look at a worker's pension, those pensions - our wages are less now than they were 30 years ago. Our benefits - FRANCINE: (inaudible at 00:47:52) RICHARD TRUMKA: Are lower than they were 20 some years ago. And the answer in America, remember what John Kennedy said that the rising tide lifts all boats? So if somebody makes a little bit better than us, should you say bring them down to me? Or should we look at ways to bring people up? And our position is everybody ought to retire with a minimum of 70 percent of their take home pay. And if you're at the lower end of the spectrum, it should actually go up. And I see your friend next to you laughing. The rest of the world - [00:48:23] FRANCINE: Yes. RICHARD TRUMKA: Does that. They're (inaudible at 00:48:24) as we are. FRANCINE: You mean in their pension plan? That their pension plan should be (inaudible at 00:48:28)? RICHARD TRUMKA: No. Their total retirement should take them to 70 percent - FRANCINE: But the problem is - RICHARD TRUMKA: Of where they are. FRANCINE: Just to follow up, the problem is in some of these communities, the pension plan is 70 percent - RICHARD TRUMKA: Okay. FRANCINE: Of their take home pay. RICHARD TRUMKA: Okay. FRANCINE: Which I don't think anybody - RICHARD TRUMKA: And so - FRANCINE: In this room - I mean for you to compare to a CEOs, it seems kind of irrelevant because we're talking about - F: No. That's not (inaudible at 00:48:48) RICHARD TRUMKA: Really? FRANCINE: Yeah. RICHARD TRUMKA: Really? FRANCINE: We're - RICHARD TRUMKA: Well wait a second - FRANCINE: We're - RICHARD TRUMKA: Well wait a second - FRANCINE: We're talking about - RICHARD TRUMKA: So when a worker makes - FRANCINE: (inaudible at 00:48:52) RICHARD TRUMKA: When a minimum wage worker - when a minimum wage worker makes 70 percent, that's bad but when a CEO makes 5,000 percent that's okay. [00:49:02] FRANCINE: But in most of these places, the teachers and firemen and policemen, etc; we're not talking about minimum wage workers. We're talking and you know - RICHARD TRUMKA: (inaudible at 00:49:10) FRANCINE: We've all seen these stories in the paper about - RICHARD TRUMKA: So - FRANCINE: New York policemen who are now making more than 100 percent of their salary as a pension. As these stories come out, they're (inaudible at 00:49:21). RICHARD TRUMKA: And so do CEOs. And so do other people in this country. FRANCINE: Well (inaudible at 00:49:24) RICHARD TRUMKA: But we focus on the public employees. FRANCINE: Yeah. I don't think most people who are reading these stories (inaudible at 00:49:29) RICHARD TRUMKA: If you give me specific examples with dollars, I'll address them to you. But I'm not going to tear down public employees because they get a decent pension. Their salaries are generally less than their counterparts in the private sector. So they've given something up to get that pension. And now you're saying after the rules have been played now because Wall Street has screwed up the economy and Corporate America is making record profits this year - world record profits - somehow we ought to accept less to pay for the party that they have. If there's some equity in this, I think workers will look at it. But they haven't seen the equity and that's why they're angry. [00:50:17] QUESTIONER: Can I ask you a question? RICHARD TRUMKA: That's why they're frustrated and that's why they're mad. When you say take that guy's pension away but a CEO who just got $8 million for not competing the two years after he died - two years after he died, his family gets $4 million each year for not competing not an article written. Not a concern expressed. Not an eyebrow raised. Not a voice listened to. You know? That's why workers are frustrated. QUESTIONER: Can I ask you -? RICHARD TRUMKA: If you can't tell, that's why I'm frustrated. QUESTIONER: Can I ask you a follow up though? RICHARD TRUMKA: Because you guys don't get it. [00:50:55] QUESTIONER: Well but here's the claim - let me come at it from a different way. As opposed to taking money away from workers which is an incendiary thing on its face, let me ask you about the problem that you will face as the leader of the labor movement. In coming years, the (inaudible at 00:51:09) center on the states said there was a trillion dollar gap at the end of 2008 between money that the states had set aside to pay pensions and what they're going to need. So would you admit there's a crunch coming that you're going to have to face on -? RICHARD TRUMKA: That I'm going to have to face? QUESTIONER: Well the - RICHARD TRUMKA: Or we're going to - QUESTIONER: That you - RICHARD TRUMKA: Or we're going to have to face. QUESTIONER: That you - that you as the head of the labor - RICHARD TRUMKA: That's - there's the problem. It's not me. It's we. QUESTIONER: Okay. RICHARD TRUMKA: It's society. QUESTIONER: That we - that we are going to have to face. RICHARD TRUMKA: Yeah. Long term we have a problem - a deficient problem in the country. QUESTIONER: And a pension and a state and local employee pension funding problem. [00:51:51] RICHARD TRUMKA: And the answer - a large part of that answer is growth - job growth, wage growth. That's how revenue gets raised. You don't get - fix the problem by giving the rich another holiday on taxes. You don't get that problem fixed by letting Wall Street and have Corporate America pay the lowest effective taxes they've paid in 50 years. MODERATOR: (inaudible at 00:52:19) RICHARD TRUMKA: Yeah. See they keep getting a holiday. And the solution that my friend down here says is take it out of the little guy's ass. Well that's what we're offended by. And that's why people are angry. And that's what you don't get. Wall Street got theirs. Main Street isn't. And now you say let them pay for it again. MODERATOR: We've got two last questions. Matt Viser and Susan Page. Matt. MATT VISER: I'm curious what your sense is on healthcare and how much it's playing in the mid-term elections. And if it's something that - it was so explosive several months ago but has that been over shadowed by the economy and all these other things? Like are you finding in the races, these 400 races that you guys have been looking at that you're trying to get out there and preach the merits of the healthcare bill? Or is it (inaudible at 00:53:11) moved on and moved to other (inaudible at 00:53:13)? [00:53:13] RICHARD TRUMKA: Yeah. I think it's probably neutral tending to positive. It's not a big - it's not going to be a big effect in the election one way or the other. In some races, I think it tends towards positive. Because you've got a lot of people whose kids are now covered, people who weren't covered are now covered. So I think it probably, as people find out more about it, I think they're more - the impression and the acceptance is much higher. MATT VISER: Are you finding in those areas that Republicans though are trying to use it against the Democrats? RICHARD TRUMKA: Some and I hope they do because it doesn't work. It hasn't worked. MODERATOR: Last question Susan. SUSAN PAGE: I know you don't think Republicans are going to win Congress. What if the unexpected happens? (Laughter) SUSAN PAGE: What are the consequences of that do you think? How much difference does it make if Republicans win the House? [00:54:00] RICHARD TRUMKA: Well I think it makes a significant difference. I think we'll go back to where Corporate America and Wall Street ran wild. They'll do everything that they can to continue the policies of the last 30 years. You'll see more tax cuts for the rich. You'll see - that's their strategy is to shrink the federal government by bleeding it to death. And you'll see more of that. They'll come after workers. They'll come after us - the labor movement. They'll come after every group out there that stands in the way of them having unfair (inaudible at 00:54:31). SUSAN PAGE: But President Obama will still be president. Does that provide you some protection from some of these things? RICHARD TRUMKA: Well it does. But that means that any change of progress will be ended. And we will - it will go back to the economy that we saw where Corporate and Wall Street ran wild. You won't get health and safety laws passed. Even though minors will continue to be killed or people - refinery workers will get killed on the job; you won't see constructive legislation. You won't see extensions of unemployment. You won't see job creation bills come out. You'll see tax cut bills for the very rich. And you'll see Social Security, the age go up and the benefits go down. [00:55:18] QUESTIONER: (inaudible at 00:55:19) Wall Street before (inaudible at 00:55:22)? RICHARD TRUMKA: Well they said he'd repeal it. Boehner's No. 1 issue was he would repeal Wall Street reform and healthcare reform. He'd go back to the - where we were to the issues that caused us - to the economy that caused the economic disaster that we're trying to dig out. That's what he said. QUESTIONER: What makes you - just to follow up quickly on Susan's question? I mean as you know most of the non partisan forecasts, Charlie Cook - no relation - and others who track this for a living and don't have any special interest in the game see if not certain victory for Republicans in the House at least a tide coming there. And on the Senate side, seven or eight seats, seven you know five, seven, something like that. What is it that the conventional journalistic analysts are missing that makes you much more positive about not having Republicans take over? [00:56:26] RICHARD TRUMKA: Well let's just look at it. If this was going to be a Republican tidal wave, do you think those Republican incumbents would have been elected or not elected? They got swept out. They lost. They lost because they didn't have answers about jobs. This is going to be a race by race decision. It's not going to be a national poll where people say you want Democrats or Republicans? They're going to say do you want this Democrat or this Republican? [00:57:01] And when this Republican's only answer is I'm going to get rid of Nancy Pelosi and I'm going to cut taxes for the rich; that Republican is going to lose to the Democrat that says I'm going stop outsourcing. I'm going to stop tax breaks. I'm going to reward people who produce in this country. That's what this is going to be about. And that's not what the Republicans are talking about. And when I go out into the field, when I knock on doors, I have yet to have anybody come out and say get rid of Nancy Pelosi. I have yet to have anybody say do something about those deficits. They say jobs, pensions, education for my kid. What are you going to do to help my kids get a job? Those are the issues. And to lump everybody together, all these candidates and say they're going to vote for them, I think is fool hearted. MODERATOR: We appreciate your annual visit. And we look forward to seeing you in 2011. Thanks. [00:58:01] RICHARD TRUMKA: I haven't lost my passion, have I? MODERATOR: No. You certainly have not. (Laughter) MODERATOR: Thank you sir. RICHARD TRUMKA: Thank you. MODERATOR: Appreciate it. RICHARD TRUMKA: You bet. END TRANSCRIPT