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[Editor's note: The following is the second installment of FrontPage's new series, "Union Gangsters." In this profile, award-winning investigative reporter Matthew Vadum unmasks Big Labor kingpin Richard Trumka, whose dirty agitation tactics have earned him the moniker "thug-in-chief." To read about union consigliere Craig Becker, click here.]
Richard Trumka is a thug’s thug, and a crafty one at that.
The AFL-CIO boss believes the end justifies the means. Breaking the law is acceptable if it advances the cause. Unions should “forget about the law; this is about more than that,” he said at the “Future of Unions” roundtable in Detroit on April 7.
Like many union leaders, occasionally the slippery Trumka pretends to like capitalism. He supports vigorous enforcement of intellectual property rights, not because he actually believes in them, but because his members work in industries that depend on their enforcement. Turning a blind eye to the manufacture of counterfeit machine parts could put union members out of work.
But unlike most high-profile leftists, Trumka doesn’t even make an effort to conceal his radicalism. “Being called a socialist is a step up for me,” he told Bloomberg News in June. In 1994, Trumka proudly accepted the Eugene Debs Award named after the five-time presidential candidate and labor organizer who founded the Socialist Party of America.
As an AFL-CIO executive, Trumka helped to create “Union Summer,” a program for training young people as organizers and political activists. Participants were made to recite a pledge called “Working Class Commitment” that included the Marxist idea “that we [union workers] produce the world’s wealth … [and] will end all oppression.”
Trumka, a mine worker-cum-lawyer, admits he got involved in “the labor movement not because I wanted to negotiate wages,” but “because I saw it as a vehicle to do massive social change to include lots of people.” As he’s climbed the ranks of AFL-CIO leadership, Trumka has moved away from his modest roots. His 2011 compensation package at AFL-CIO totaled $293,750, according to LM-2 disclosure forms on file with the U.S. Department of Labor. Trumka apparently lives in a four-bathroom house assessed at $747,650 in Rockville, MD, a suburb of Washington, D.C.
He helped to turn the AFL-CIO away from boosting wages and improving working conditions. Now, the labor federation focuses on recruiting government workers who benefit from higher tax rates and bigger government, a growing constituency within the Democratic Party. The federation also blackmails employers by generating adverse publicity, harassing investors, and linking arms with the media and radical activists.
While at the helm of the AFL-CIO, Trumka helped repeal a longtime rule that banned Communists and fellow-travelers from leadership positions in the organization and its unions. The move to open the previously patriotic union to subversives delighted the Communist Party USA. “The radical shift in both leadership and policy is a very positive, even historic change,” CPUSA National Chairman Gus Hall said in 1996.
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