Union Chief Richard Trumka Fires Warning Shot on 2012 Campaign

May 20, 2011 2:03pm

ABC News' Devin Dwyer reports:  AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka, who heads of one of the nation's most powerful labor unions, today called current state and federal budget proposals a "despicable canvass of cruelty" and warned of consequences for politicians who even indirectly support them.

"It doesn't matter if candidates and parties are controlling the wrecking ball or simply standing aside," said Trumka in an address at the National Press Club. "The outcome is the same either way." 

"If leaders aren't blocking the wrecking ball and advancing working families' interests, working people will not support them. This is where our focus will be — now, in 2012, and beyond," he said, a message aimed at Democrats and President Obama. 

Trumka said the union would become more politically "independent" and selective in giving its support.

"Our role is not to build the power of a political party or a candidate," he said. 

In the next few months, the AFL-CIO says it plans to focus efforts on recall elections in Wisconsin and other states that have tried to limit union rights.

Then, the group will work to "hold elected leaders in Congress as well as the states accountable on one measure: are they improving or degrading life for working families?" Trumka said.

Asked whether he approves of the job President Obama has done, Trumka said the president has done a "good job," but that the "scale" of his efforts has been too limited.

He said Obama has made a "strategic blunder" by letting deficit reduction talks eclipse an effort to push legislation to stimulate job growth.

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