Union chief says new PAC will empower the nation’s ‘silent majority’

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said Wednesday that the super PAC being set up by the labor federation will help unions earn their independence from political parties. 

Trumka said the new political group will be an “independent advocacy arm” of the labor federation that will help the group reach out to workers who aren’t already union members.

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“This advocacy arm will help build the power of America’s silent majority,” Trumka said. “It will not directly fund political or politicians’ campaigns. Nor will it match the endless flow of cash from corporations. But it will be an effort by and for working people.”

Trumka said the labor federation has not set a fundraising goal for the super PAC, but he expects it will be built on small contributions from workers.

Too often, Trumka said, the political apparatus of the labor movement has fallen dormant after Election Day. The new super PAC should prevent that from happening by keeping up the heat on politicians, he said. 

“It will allow us to have year-round advocacy,” Trumka said.

Super PACs can raise and spend unlimited funds on electioneering activities, but are required to disclose their donors, unlike other political nonprofit groups that were active last campaign season.

The formation of the AFL-CIO super PAC comes as unions have grown increasingly frustrated with their traditional Democratic allies in Washington. President Obama and others in the party have focused more on cutting down the national deficit than on boosting the still-struggling economy, labor officials have said. 

Last week, Trumka said Obama had to be careful not to fall “into the nibbling around the edge” when it comes to pushing for federal action to boost job creation.

Asked Wednesday about labor’s support for Obama next election, Trumka said his labor federation would continue to push the president.

“I think he has delivered on some things. I think he hasn’t delivered on other things. We continue to push him on the things that are good for working people,” Trumka said. “The thing we continue to push on is job creation, and he’s going to, I think, do everything he can to create jobs on the scale that we will need it. We’ll see if there’s any kind of bipartisanship.”

Despite his criticism of Obama last week, the labor leader remains close to the White House. On Labor Day, Trumka is scheduled to join the president along with Labor Secretary Hilda Solis at a jobs rally in Detroit.

Trumka said Congress and the White House could do several things to create jobs in the United States, such as passing a surface transportation reauthorization bill or a Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill. Those items, along with extending unemployment benefits and offering financial aid to state and local governments, are part of the AFL-CIO six-point “Good Jobs” plan.

Trumka said voters will support politicians next election who are working to create jobs.

“They want action, and I think they see who’s stalling,” Trumka said. “They’re going to check and see who’s pushing for jobs right now, see whose main purpose and focus is jobs. I think they will support that person, or persons.”