100 People to Watch This Fall : Page 54 of 102

Richard Trumka President of the AFL-CIO

As the face of organized labor in the United States, Trumka’s support for the Senate’s bipartisan immigration-reform deal was crucial to securing passage of the proposal in June. The president of the AFL-CIO joined forces with his frequent adversary, Tom Donohue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to craft intricate guest-worker provisions that both sides could support. In doing so, the two men greased the skids for the Senate’s 68-32 vote in favor.

The tougher fight for Trumka looms in the House, where conservative Republicans — critical of the Senate bill — are moving legislation that excludes both a citizenship pathway for illegal immigrants and many of the wage, housing and whistle-blower protections granted to workers in the upper chamber’s proposal. The exclusions are all anathema to labor leaders.

Indeed, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker was among the immigrant-rights advocates arrested on Aug. 1 after blocking traffic outside the Capitol in protest of the House GOP’s immigration strategy.

Trumka has also been a vocal advocate for extending federal healthcare benefits to illegal immigrants, a provision that would almost certainly be dead on arrival in the House.

A native of southwestern Pennsylvania’s mining country, Trumka has headed the AFL-CIO since 2009 after 15 years as the group’s secretary-treasurer.