Labor Tees Up Fight Against Boehner, Potential GOP House

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka Wednesday warned labor-oriented voters to be wary of Republican prospects to seize control of the House of Representatives this fall and elect House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) as speaker.

"Things will get worse if we let them," said Trumka. "We absolutely believe that when workers get to vote, there will be no Speaker Boehner."

Trumka suggested that the agenda spelled out last week by Boehner in an address to the City Club of Cleveland "would move us right back to the Bush-era corporate agenda that created the economic morass we are still trying to escape."

At one point, he alluded to some business interests as "corporate traitors."

Trumka unveiled a TV ad that will air across the country during sporting events this Labor Day weekend.

He says the ad is "not political" in nature. Instead, it represents union workers who perform traditional blue collar jobs and drive the economy.

"It's about defining who we are," Trumka said.

Trumka wouldn't commit to how much the AFL-CIO would spend on that ad buy or other political commercials as the critical midterm elections creep closer. But Trumka conceded that "corporate America" would outspend labor this election cycle.

That doesn't bode well for Congressional Democrats who traditionally rely on labor support. This is proving to be the most-volatile election year since 1994 with voters showing significant hostility toward Democrats.

Still, Trumka remained optimistic.

"I'll take my boots on the ground," Trumka said of local and state organizing efforts labor plans this fall.

Trumka said the AFL-CIO would be active in 26 states, trying to reach 17 million working class voters. He said labor would have a presence in 26 Senate contests and 70 House races.

In particular, Trumka indicated that the union would be a major player in battleground states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Illinois and Wisconsin, among others. He said that the AFL-CIO would be working to support the Senate candidacy of Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-FL) against Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (I) and Republican nominee Marco Rubio. However, without mentioning her by name, Trumka noted the union would not be working on behalf of Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR). A conservative Democrat, Lincoln has a spotty union voting record and faces an uphill re-election bid against Rep. John Boozman (R-AR).

"I feel we should support people who support us," Trumka said.

Trumka will appear in Milwaukee on Labor Day with President Obama. And the AFL-CIO plans a major rally on the National Mall in Washington in early October.

He also expected Congressional Democrats to debate and vote on at least three "jobs" related bills once lawmakers return to Washington in less than two weeks.

"I think there will be voted between now and November," Trumka said, signaling that transportation, clean water and energy legislation on the Congressional docket all have consequences for the workforce.

Trumka expressed confidence that the AFl-CIO could get Democratic voters to the polls this fall once his side propounded its message.

"Workers have a stark choice to make," Trumka said. "The facts are on our side."


AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka/AP