Why Is AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka Talking to the White House Everyday?

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," February 22, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight: Have you ever heard of a guy named Richard Trumka? He is the president of the AFL-CIO, and he is very close to President Obama.


RICHARD TRUMKA, PRESIDENT, AFL-CIO: I'm at the White House a couple times a week. Two, three times a week. I have conversations everyday with someone in the White House or in the administration. Everyday.


O'REILLY: Wow. Joining us now from Washington, Fox News political analyst Charles Krauthammer. So, why should we care about this Trumka guy, Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you tell me. It's not a new story that the AFL-CIO is close to the Democrats. It's been that way for 50 years. It's one of the largest union federations. We traditionally think of it associated with the industrial unions, steel workers, auto workers, and mine workers but it also has a large contingent of government workers, AFSCME, American Federation of Teachers, etc.

To me, it's not news that they talk to the White House all the time. We know on Election Day the unions contribute huge amount of money to Democrats and they man the phone banks and they do the buses. They get out the vote. They are essentially a wing of the Democratic Party. There is nothing new here.

What's new is the rebellion on the part of Republican governors in states like New Jersey, Wisconsin, as we're seeing, Indiana, Ohio, against the stranglehold that government worker unions have had over their states, driving them into bankruptcy. And finally, they are standing up and saying no more.

O'REILLY: Here is what makes it an intriguing story as far as Trumka is concerned. He has been to the White House 46 times since the president was elected. This is an update as of January 28 this year. Andy Stern, former SEIU president, 58 visits. The AFL-CIO, as we just reported, put out that ad in Wisconsin. Now, I don't think it's a stretch to say that President Obama may be behind the scenes in this Wisconsin brawl. It might be he and his guys directing what happens out there.

KRAUTHAMMER: Directing is a word I would not use. That is sort of conspiratorial. Obama is dragged into this because the Democrats cannot exist without union support. This, what is happening in Wisconsin is a threat to the power of unions, the power they have over government and their ability to have huge amounts of money that they can throw around and help Democrats in elections. Therefore he has got to show some support for his union flank.

Now, he knows, as you pointed out, public opinion is not exactly on the side of the screamers and the shouters in the statehouse in Wisconsin. So you will notice he hasn't been out there personally on this issue. He made one statement about attack on unions, assault on unions. Obviously his element in the DNC, I think it's called Organizing for America, has been helping to funnel the money, bring in other people from the outside, yes.

But this is not a White House-orchestrated conspiracy. This is a Wisconsin issue, spontaneous reaction on the part of the workers obviously are going to be involved, obviously are going to be disadvantaged if the governor gets his way in Wisconsin. And if you are in the White House, you have got to end up supporting the unions or you are shooting yourself in the foot.

O'REILLY: Ok. But it is a vital issue for President Obama and the Democratic Party to at least reach some kind of compromise out there because if they get their butt kicked across the board, as I said, it's a domino effect in other states and the union is going to lose a lot of money and a lot of power and so is the Democratic Party because they are hand in hand, as you pointed out.

KRAUTHAMMER: You are exactly right because the unions in Wisconsin have already agreed to the one-time giveback on health care and on pensions. What they want to retain is these institutional arrangements they have which make them strong.

For example, in Wisconsin, the state collects union dues. It takes it right out of your paycheck. Then it gives it to the union bosses. Under the proposal by the governor of Wisconsin, that no longer is going to happen. The unions are going to have to be -- every year are going to have to be recertified and that means they can lose their accreditation every year. If that happens, the union bosses run out of money, they run out of members and that means a blow to the Democrats nationwide. If it spreads, and it would spread, it would be really damaging.

O'REILLY: You're assuming that most union workers would opt out of the union if they had the chance.

KRAUTHAMMER: The reason the unions, the bosses and the unions are fighting so strongly against this is they know if you give choice, Democrats are supposed to be pro-choice. They want no choice on this. They are worried to death if you give teachers and others a choice to pay $1,000 a year in union dues or not, some of them may actually say, "I think I can use that thousand dollars."

O'REILLY: There is no doubt about that. All right. Charles, thanks very much. We appreciate it.

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