Labor Leaders Draw Line in the Sand at White House Meeting
Labor and progressive leaders who met with President Obama Tuesday drew a line in the sand on taxes, unemployment insurance, and entitlements—all of which are subject to change under the looming fiscal cliff deadline.
The meeting was the first of three the president will hold on the topic this week. He will meet with business leaders Wednesday and Congressional leaders Friday.
Richard Trumka, president of AFL-CIO said the meeting was "very positive," and that the president reiterated his position on preserving tax breaks for the middle class and seeing that the wealthy pay more.
One point of conflict between labor leaders and the White House may arise if the president offers to raise the eligibility age for Medicare as leverage to reach a deal. Trumka made no indication that the two sides made any progress on negotiating the issue during their one-hour meeting.
"I've always had this notion that unless we can negotiate, and you have the power to settle it with me, there's no negotiation," Trumka said. "We were pretty clear of our position on ages and benefit cuts."
AFSCME President Lee Saunders said his organization will continue a grassroots campaign during fiscal cliff negotiations similar to what they do during election season.
"What we're going to do is keep our members mobilized and organized in different communities across the country," Saunders said. "We won the election, but we're going into another campaign now."