Labor's Voice for Change (64) August 25, 2009

Trumka Is Ignoring His ‘Conflict of Interest’
Obama’s Labor Secretary Is Asked to Mediate

By Harry Kelber
Candidate for AFL-CIO Executive Council

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka is ignoring his “conflict of interest,” in which he is in charge of the Federation’s pre-convention rules and policy decisions, while, at the same time, he is a candidate for president of the AFL-CIO.

He should be allowed to choose one or the other positions, but he intends to hold on to both, enabling him to communicate, at will, with all convention delegates, while denying opposition candidates as much as a peek at the list of delegates, the group that will decide the election.

That is only one of several ways Trumka can use his convention position to promote his bid for the AFL-CIO presidency, while preventing opposition candidates from reaching the delegates with their messages.

Since no group within the AFL-CIO is willing to challenge Trumka’s unfair and possibly illegal behavior, I am appealing to President Obama’s Labor Secretary, Hilda L. Solis, to use her mediating influence to ensure a fair election.

In my letter to Labor Secretary Solis, I said: “There are a number of bizarre rules that are manifestly undemocratic and make fair elections virtually impossible. It would be helpful if you would send a team of observers to monitor the elections and report any violations of election and labor laws.”

I offered Secretary Solis another example of how “Trumka has adopted convention rules that make it technically impossible for me to receive even a single vote. I explained: “Delegates wishing to vote for me would have to include the names of 42 other candidates on their ballots, for those ballots to be valid. If their ballots contained fewer than 43 names, it would be declared invalid and thrown out.” Isn’t that a crusher?

“Moreover, the distribution of convention votes is “outrageously skewed,” I pointed out. “A union like the Public Employees (AFSCME) has about 1.4 million convention votes, based on the union’s membership, while the AFL-CIO-affiliated state and local bodies have only 600 votes, combined.”

Where Are Trumka’s 43 Hand –Picked Council Candidates?

Since June 1, I have been the only publicly announced candidate for a Vice President seat on the AFL-CIO Executive Council. But where are the candidates for the available 43 Council seats? With less than three weeks before the start of the convention, they’ are still in hiding, and they won’t show their faces until Sept; 16, when nominations take place, to be followed by the election the next day. You want to call this a fair, democratic election?

The new AFL-CIO Executive Council will be faced with numerous crises. It will have to fight for a second economic stimulus package to provide assistance for the millions of workers who have lost their jobs and their homes. It will have to design strategies for union organizing that will result in significant increases in union membership. And it will have to find ways to stabilize AFL-CIO’s financial solvency, endangered by Trumka’s mismanagement.

Can we trust a Council, hand-picked by Sweeney and Trumka, that prefers to remain nameless and voiceless, as well as clueless about their qualifications and intentions?

American workers deserve better.

Article 65 of “Labor’s Voice for Change” will appear on Thursday, August 27