AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is calling on President Obama to use his planned jobs speech next month to offer bold solutions for putting the unemployed back to work, warning that anything less will diminish labor’s support for the president’s 2012 campaign.
If Obama is only willing to push policies that have bipartisan support, then he allows Republicans to set the agenda, Trumka said on Thursday at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. Obama must lead and not follow, he added.
“I urged him to propose what is necessary to solve the problem and I hope he does,” Trumka said. “If they don’t have a jobs program, I think we could better use our money doing other things.”
In 2008, organized labor’s get-out-the-vote efforts were critical to Obama’s election. And as the president’s reelection campaign begins its push to increase participation among the Democratic base, labor could play a big role.
But after a string of high-profile disappointments, including the president’s failure to push through bills overhauling immigration laws and making it easier to organize unions, Trumka said he has repeatedly warned Obama that union members may be less than energized about his reelection.
“People have pretty much lost faith in Washington to solve their problems,” Trumka said.