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Richard Trumka Accepts Labor Party Nod

john.halle's picture

Could it happen here? The latest in a series.

Comments/discussion welcomed.

Trumka Nominated

Chicago-To the cheers of thousands of rank and file activists, AFL CIO head Richard Trumka accepted the nomination of the newly formed US Labor Party for the Presidency of the United States. Trumka will make his run as the standard bearer of a party fielding a full slate of candidates from the local and state to federal levels, running with the support of all major national and international unions, many peace and environmental organizations, and millions of economically and politically disenfranchised Americans.

Addressing a packed convention center a stone's throw from Chicago's haymarket, Trumka's remarks evoked labor's fallen heros and rekindled themes of radical trade unionism long thought vanquished after generations of hostility to organized labor fomented by right wing think tanks, mainstream media outlets and an army of pro-business lobbyists in Washington.

"For years the working people of this country have seen our hopes and dreams placed on the auction block and sold off to corporate criminals and Wall Street bankers," the Pennsylvania native said. "It is time to take back this country from the organized money controlling both parties which, as President Roosevelt reminded us during the last depression, is no better than an organized mob."

While the party's founding seems to have blind-sided Democratic Party insiders, it had been a frequent topic of conversation behind the scenes for some years, according to union officials.

Discouraged by the administration's failure to move on the Employees Free Choice Act, an inadequate economic stimulus package and its consistent embrace of a corporate friendly agenda, the last straw, according union leaders, came with open expressions of hostility from White House officials in the wake of union support for primary challengers in June primaries.

In a remark now seen as prophetic, AFL-CIO spokesman Eddie Vale responded that "Labor is not an arm of the Democratic Party". Vale's words were quickly followed by the formation of an exploratory committee whose favorable report would lead to the first steps in the official establishment of the USLP.


The Trumka candidacy is expected to pose serious and possibly insurmountable challenges for the Democratic Party in the general election.

Despite a billion dollar war chest provided by finance, insurance, pharmaceutical, nuclear, coal, oil and natural gas industries, experts have expressed doubts whether the Democrats will be able to compensate for the absence of on the ground muscle and electoral experience historically provided by union locals.

In an inversion of the normal campaign dynamic, the Democratic incumbent Barack Obama, saddled with historically low approval ratings, is now perceived as a sure loser in most states. Those looking to head off the far-right candidacy of a likely Romney-Palin ticket are increasingly viewing Trumka's candidacy the most viable, pragmatic option.

The Labor Party is likely to attract substantial and enthusiastic support in areas hard hit by the deep and continuing recession, double digit rates of unemployment, and declining wages. The recently negotiated cut backs in Social Security benefits have enraged seniors and have been widely condemned by economists as Hooveresque and sure to lead to further economic contraction and job cutbacks. Trumka's call for a Green New Deal was praised by environmentalists as offering reasonable grounds for hope to head off the near certainty of environmental collapse induced by a decades-long failure to take steps to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gasses.

Weakened by years of declining membership and a history of corruption within organized labor, the initial formation of the Labor Party was initially ridiculed by media pundits and party strategists. It is now apparent that, regardless of the outcome of the campaign, a third labor party will be a permanent fixture in the political establishment, balancing the rightward drift of what some union leaders refer to, with some derision, as the "legacy" parties.

A good indication of the party's rapid and unexpected growth was apparent from the remark of one union official: "For years we couldn't get the Democrats on the phone. Now they're sending us their resumés."

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pmj6's picture
Submitted by pmj6 on

For a second there I thought this was for real. Damn.... I was even trying to google the labor party web site...

john.halle's picture
Submitted by john.halle on

Actually this seemed to have some real potential at one point.

For one thing, UPenn prof and all around great guy Adolph Reed was behind it.

But alas, it and much else died with Obamania.

thuggyBear's picture
Submitted by thuggyBear on

I was fooled too.

Crap. Now I am totally bummed.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

Can we get Trumka to primary Obama? Pretty please! I was impressed with Trumka early on. Trumka caved on sp and went for public option which was a serious cave. but what the hey, everyone else did. He was trying to find Obama the community organizer compromiser as if that would have a payoff. Reaching out to Obama with the "audacity of hope." An old, stale reference I know.

It was a good visualization!

john.halle's picture
Submitted by john.halle on

Thanks LL. I personally favor a third party run for a lot of reasons.

In any case, it's a bit disappointing that this piece hasn't generated more discussion.

If folks here are serious about destroying the Democratic Party, this is one way, maybe the only way, to do it. It won't fall on its own; it will need a push.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

I saw your headline and before reading it I told a few people, "Hey, I heard Trumka is heading a Labor Party!" I was the first on my block to know that and they got excited, too. So with that and my Agathie Christie confusion, my cred is sinking, but in an interesting way. :)


john.halle's picture
Submitted by john.halle on

Let's see if it goes viral now!

Submitted by jawbone on

quickly realized it was too good to be true. But, spot on, John.

Still makes me long for a party that represents the principles I once thought were the bedrock of the Democratic Party.

We need, I guess, the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party that Paul Wellstone talked about and campaigned on.

john.halle's picture
Submitted by john.halle on

Thanks Jawbone.

Alas, it looks like the idea didn't go viral.

To be clear, I don't have any illusions about Trumka-for reasons Lambert mentions in a recent post and nomnomnom1 alludes to above.

What was intended was a kind of Yes Man stunt whereby reporters would be misled and begin asking questions at Trumka press conferences. At that point, he would be forced to give reasons for why it is such an absurd idea-and since there are no such reasons, he would end up looking silly thus reinforcing the basic point.

OK-that's all pretty unlikely. But there is something to be said for trying first to envision a possible future and then working to make it happen rather than to be consigned to reacting to this or that most recent outrage perpetrated by the elites.

Submitted by lambert on

That's a very intereresting and powerful idea.

Also, it's a lot more fun than the takedowns. So have at it, I say!

Heck, write the one where Hillary resigns as SoS on principle!