Richard Trumka

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Richard Trumka


Richard "Dick" L. Trumka was elected Secretary- Treasurer of AFL-CIO in 1995 after serving as President of the United Mine Workers union since 1982. In his position he has focused on creating investment programs for the pension and benefit funds of the labor movement.[1]

United Mine Workers

Richard Trumka served as president of United Mine Workers from 1982 - 1995. Trumka ousted the incumbent at age 33, and was an alumnus of Jock Yablonski's Miners for Democracy the first major rank and- file insurgency of the post-1955 era.

During his tenure Trumka led difficult but successful strikes against Pittston Coal and the Bituminous Coal Operators Association. [2]

Fiery Rhetoric

  • Speaking of workers who continued to work during a strike, Trumka urged union members to "kick the shit out of every last one of 'em".[3]
  • Trumka made the following ominous comment, “I’m saying if you strike a match and you put your finger in it, you’re likely to get burned. That doesn’t mean I’m threatening to burn you. That just means if you strike the match, and you put your finger in it, common sense will tell you it’ll burn your finger.”[4]
  • He also made the following ambiguous statement, “You’d have to be very naïve to believe that if management brought in scabs, there won’t be something somewhere.”

Union Violence

In 1993 UMW striked against Peabody Coal. The miners were protesting the UMWA's sanctioning of forced overtime in the five-year contract signed with the Bituminous Coal Operators Association (BCOA) last December. Under the agreement, miners are forced to work nine or more hours per day. The dissidents pointed to the hypocrisy of UMWA officials holding a rally to honor the winning of the eight-hour day in 1902, when these same officials had signed away the eight-hour day for current miners. One of the miners, Richard Cicci, financial secretary of UMWA Local 1197 and a worker at Rochester and Pittsburgh's Eighty-Four Mine in Washington County, Pennsylvania, was struck on the head with a stick and suffered a gash over his ear that required nine stitches.[5]

Eddie York, a 39 year old nonunion worker, “was shot in the back of the head and killed” leaving a job in Logan County, West Virginia. “Guards told police the truck careened across the road and went into a ditch. When guards rushed over to check on York, they continued to be pelted with rocks, guards told police.”[6]

Charged in the assault were three officials on the payroll of the UMWA International: James Gibbs, director of organizing and administrative assistant to UMWA President Cecil Roberts; Donnie Samms, organizing director for Region Four, which covers the western US; and Marty Hudson, a trustee of the union's Combined Benefit Fund and 1992 Benefit Plan. In a video shot immediately following the attack, Gibbs, Hudson and Samms can be seen escorting UMWA President Cecil Roberts and former UMWA President and current AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka into the meeting hall.[5]

In a detailed account of the York murder and subsequent investigation, Reader’s Digest noted that “UMW President Richard Trumka did not publicly discipline or reprimand a single striker present when York was killed. In fact, all eight were helped out financially by the local.” Eventually, the union agreed to let the company “dismiss the eight original defendants if they were convicted,” but when the company “issued letters of dismissal to the seven pickets who pleaded guilty,” the union filed a grievance on their behalf.[7] Trumka and other UMW officials were charged in a $27 million wrongful death suit by Eddie York’s widow. After fighting the suit intensely for four years, UMW lawyers settled suddenly in 1997[8] - just two days after the judge in the case ruled evidence in the criminal trial would be admitted.[9]

The Socialist Equality Party reiterated its solidarity with the victims of the Mitchell Day assault. In an editorial board statement issued shortly after the April 1 attack, the WSWS wrote:[5]

"The Socialist Equality Party in the US emphatically condemns this hooligan attack and calls on miners and all workers to protest this assault on their democratic rights. Whatever Roberts and Trumka may think, their union sinecures do not give them a license to bully and intimidate workers who oppose their policies."

More information on union violence which occurred during Trumka's presidency is available in the Richard Trumka Fact File.

Labor Research Association Honoree

The congressionally identified Communist Party USA front, the Labor Research Association, was holding their annual luncheon in New York City in November 1983. An announcement of this event was published in the "What's On" section of the CPUSA newspaper, the Daily World of November 10, 1983, P. 19, as follows:

"SUN, Nov. 20 - LRA's Eighth Annual Luncheon Banquest honors Richard Trumka, Pres., UMWA, in his first NYC appearance, also Cong. Major Owens of Brooklyn. Susan McComber of UE-1180, Sioux Falls, will speak on "Fighting the Litton Conglomeration." Tickets $50, $25 for rank and file and seniors unable to pay full price."

Workers Defense League award

Democratic Left, Sep./Oct. 1991, page 32

The Democratic Socialists of America led Workers Defense League, Inc. presented its David Clendenin Award at its annual dinner May 13 1991 to Richard Trumka, President of the United Mine Workers of America.[10]

DSA Health Care Speakers Tour

In the keynote of the Democratic Socialists of America Health Care Speakers Tour, Audrey McLaughlin, Leader of the New Democratic Party, met with members of Congress, trade unionists, and media in Washington, D.C. Democratic Socialists of America, AFSCME, and the American Solidarity Campaign organized a Congressional breakfast, press luncheon and labor reception for McLaughlin. They also set up meetings with House Majority Whip David Bonior, Congressman Marty Russo, UMWA President Richard Trumka, and AFSCME President Gerald McEntee.[11]

Empowerment '92

Empowerment '92: A Call to Action Conference, was held June 6 to 9, 1992. African American community activists, joined with trade unionists, politicians, peace activists, environmentalists and others to discuss how to change the nation's priorities as the economic crisis deepens.

Of the upcoming conference DC Statehood Senator Jesse Jackson said..."We issue this Call to Action to reaffirm and reassert our vision of a true world order, one based on peace, justice and human priorities. our message, translated into action can, and must srt a new direction for our nation".[12]

Speakers included;

Socialist award

Central Indiana Democratic Socialists of America sent a contingent to the November 5 Eugene Debs Award Banquet in Terre Haute. 1994's honoree was United Mine Workers President Richard Trumka. [13]

"Progressive coalition"

According to Democratic Socialists of America member and journalist Harold Meyerson, the "progressive coalition" of labor unionists which ousted conservative AFL-CIO president Lane Kirkland in 1994-95 and replaced him with DSA member John Sweeney was led by Gerald McEntee, John Sweeney, Richard Trumka, and George Kourpias (all identified DSA affiliates). The coalition selected Trumka as Sweeney's running mate against the conservative faction's choice Tom Donahue.[14]

Campaign for America's Future

In 1996 Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO was one of the original 130 founders of Campaign for America's Future[15].

CLUW conference

Speakers at the November 1997 Coalition of Labor Union Women conference in Seattle, included Richard Trumka, and Linda Chavez-Thompson of the AFL-CIO, Nancy Riche, executive VP of of the Canadian Labor Congress and Senator Patty Murray and Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington State.[16]

Economic Policy Institute

Richard Trumka serves[17]on the Board of Directors of the Democratic Socialists of America led Economic Policy Institute[18].

Congressional Progressive Caucus

In 1997 Chicago DSA member Bruce Bentley wrote;

There is a class struggle in process in the Congress with the Progressive Caucus around such issues as the Welfare Bill, NAFTA and Single Payer Health Care.

As a result of this DSA's Political Director Christine Riddiough organized a meeting with the Congressional Progressive Caucus with the purpose and cogent task as to: "How can we unite our forces on a common agenda?" Those in attendance included Richard Trumka, Noam Chomsky, Patricia Ireland, William Greider and Jesse Jackson.[19]

"The Progressive Challenge: Capitol Hill Forum"

On January 9, 1997, over 600 people attended "The Progressive Challenge: Capitol Hill Forum" sponsored by the House Progressive Caucus, Democratic Socialists of America, and a host of other progressive organizations.

The primary goal of this day-long "kick-off" forum was to "identify the unifying values shared by progressives at this point in US history, to help define core elements of a forward-looking progressive agenda, and to pinpoint ways to connect that agenda with the concerns of millions of disillusioned people who lack voices in present politics and policy-making."

After a welcome by Representative Bernie Sanders, an impressive array of legislators, activists, and thinkers offered their insights. Senator Paul Wellstone, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Patricia Ireland of NOW, Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO, Noam Chomsky, William Greider of Rolling Stone, and DSA Honorary Chair Barbara Ehrenreich were among the many who spoke.

Some emphasized the importance of the conventional, if difficult, process of progressive candidates building grassroots campaigns that treat voters with intelligence and challenge prevailing wisdom regarding what values and issues motivate ordinary Americans struggling to make ends meet-as opposed to using polls and focus groups to concoct "designer" campaigns to appeal to upscale "soccer moms." Other speakers reminded those present that great changes are made by people acting outside of the corridors of power to define justice and "political reality," and the electoral and legislative processes are not the only arenas worthy of activists' attention.[20]

Watsonville UFW march

In 1997 the United Farm Workers, with the support and participation of the AFL-CIO, mobilized over 30,000 farmworkers and supporters in the Strawberry Capitol of the World: Watsonville, California. The march was lead by UFW leaders, Jesse Jackson, John Sweeney, Ron Carey of the Teamsters Union, Martin Sheen, and a "host of dignitaries". A particularly strong contingent came from the UCLA MeCha which mobilized close to 100 Chicano students.

Dolores Huerta, UFW vice president, an Honorary Chair of DSA , and a supporter of the DSA Latino Commission, welcomed the marchers.

Arturo Rodriguez, the new President of the United Farmworkers and heir to the tradition of Cesar Chavez, delivered his speech in English and in Spanish. John Sweeney and Richard Trumka addressed the crowd, with translation provided by Louis Valdez and others. DSA contingents came from Sacramento, Los Angeles, and San Diego as well as the Latino Commission. [21]

How Class Works

The "How Class Works - 2008" conference held at Stony Brook, New York, June 5 - 7, 2008, Center for Study of Working Class Life, proposed speakers list included: Sam Anderson, Catherine-Mercedes Brillantes Judge, Pedro Caban, Fuat Ercan, Claudia Fegan, Bill Fletcher Jr, Tami Gold, Elizabeth Hoffman, Sara Jarayaman, Stathis Kouvelakis, Sherry Linkon, Meizhu Lui, Manning Marable, Jack Metzgar, Nelson Motto, Manny Ness, Bertell Ollman, Jeff Perry, Catherine Pouzoulet, Dave Roediger, Andrew Ross, John Russo, Vinny Tirelli, Michelle Tokarczyk, Richard Trumka and Joe Wilson.

Conference organiser was Michael Zweig Director, Center for Study of Working Class Life, Department of Economics State University of New York, Stony Brook, NY[22].

Trumka and European Socialists

Trumka and European Socialists

Poul Rasmussen, president, Party of European Socialists, and co-chair of the Global Progressive Forum has stated of Trumka,

This is one of the most progressive people in the United States of America."

Rasmussen and Trumka have been working together to bring in a global financial transaction tax. See video to the right.

Blue Green Alliance

The Blue Green Alliance sponsors the annual Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference. The 2009 conference was held from Feb. 4-6, 2009.

Conference speakers included:[23]

National Jobs For All Coalition

In 2010, Richard Trumka, was listed as serving on the advisory board of the Democratic Socialists of America dominated National Jobs For All Coalition.[24]

SB1070 march, Phoenix

The Phoenix 5 mile march and rally held Saturday, May 29, 2010, in solidarity against SB1070 was quite a sight to see.

SEIU Executive VP Eliseo Medina joined a laundry list of influential minds including Rep. Raul Grijalva, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, National Day Laborer Organizing Network Executive Director Pablo Alvarado, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Co-founder of United Farm Workers Dolores Huerta, singers Jenni Rivera and Alex Lora of El Tri.[25]

Fight Back Teach In

Fight back usa logo.jpg

Fight Back Teach In held in New York City, a national teach-in on austerity, debt and corporate greed featuring Frances Fox Piven, Richard Trumka, and Cornel West on April 5, 2011

The following were featured speakers for the Teach In:[26]

Relationship with Obama

Imagestrumka.jpg

"The 99% Spring"

Individuals and organizations supporting The 99% Spring, as of April 20, 2012, included Richard Trumka - AFL-CIO .[27]

References

  1. Board of EPI
  2. Dem. Left, Sept./Oct. 1995, page 8
  3. “Sabotage Attempt Foiled at Peabody Coal Beltline.” Nashville News [Nashville, IL] 8 Sept. 1993.
  4. McClain, John D. “Violence possible UMW chief says.” Virginian-Pilot [Hampton Roads, VA] 3 Sept. 1993.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 World Socialist Web Site: Charges brought by dissident US miners, April 30, 1998 (accessed on April 7, 2011)
  6. Sanders, Pat. “Trumka calls for peace as probe continues.” Charleston Daily Mail 24 July 1993.
  7. Fitzgerald, Randy. “Murder in Logan County.” Reader's Digest Feb. 1995.
  8. Messina, Lawrence. “Widow settles with UMW.” Charleston Daily Mail 26 June 1997.
  9. Hutchison, Ron. “Widow to get trial evidence.” Charleston Daily Mail 24 June 1997.
  10. DEMOCRATIC LEFT 14 MARCH-APRIL 1991, page 15
  11. DEMOCRATIC LEFT NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 1991, pages 8-10
  12. Peoples Weekly World, May 25, 1991, page 8
  13. Dem. Left, Jan./Feb. 1995, page 28
  14. Dem. Left, Sept./Oct. 1995, page 8
  15. http://www.undueinfluence.com/caf-co-founders.htm
  16. PWW, nov. 8 1997, page 3
  17. http://www.epi.org/pages/board/
  18. http://www.epi.org/pages/board/
  19. DSA National Director Addresses Chicago DSA Membership, New Ground 51, March-April, 1997
  20. [Democratic Left • Issue #1 1997 * page 7-8]
  21. [Democratic Left • Labor Day Issue 1997. page 8]
  22. How Class Works - 2008 conference
  23. Green Jobs Conference website: 2009 Speakers (accessed on Jan. 28, 2011)
  24. National Jobs For All Coalition: Who We Are (accessed on Nov. 16, 2010)
  25. SEIU Blog, National Resistance to SB 1070 Escalates; Thousands March in Phoenix on May 29th By Kate Thomas June 1, 2010
  26. Fight Back Teach In: Local Flyer (accessed on April 8, 2011)
  27. THE 99% Spring, Who are we/ accessed April 20, 2012