By ED FINKELSTEIN
Los Angeles – In a free ranging press conference prior to the opening of the AFL-CIO Convention, President Richard Trumka extended the hand of cooperation to American’s progressive alliances and businesses while Senator Elizabeth Warren opened the conference with a cautionary note that the future is going to be an uphill struggle for America’s workers because powerful business interests and the Supreme Court are working against the middle class.
Both agreed that the continuing interests of the corporate elite are, in Trumka’s words, “not only an assault on workers, it’s an assault of the institution of Democracy!”
But Trumka, preparing for what could be a bruising battle here over opening the labor movement to membership by other progressive groups who at times are at odds with various AFL-CIO unions over specific issues, said that while there are always going to be disagreements in a family, “We can withstand the issues we disagree on and work for a common goal of an economy that works for the 99 percent.
“We can work together for good jobs, a worker’s voice on the job and in politics. It’s going to be a challenge, but we plan to do things a little differently,” because, he pointed out, “What we’ve been doing isn’t working so well.”
In preparation of the new level of cooperation and support of liberal allies, Trumka said the AFL-CIO has been focusing on mobilize local labor councils and state federations, preparing them to take on any issue.
LAWS STACKED AGAINST WORKERS
He pointed out that the laws in the U.S. are stacked against workers having a voice anywhere and that problem is exacerbated by a Supreme Court who proved they are “the best champion of corporations” when they equated money with free speech which prevents “any kind of meaningful legislation from happening. That’s not what our founders had in mind.”
Senator Warren also was critical of the Supreme Court, noting that a recent study showed that “the five conservative justices currently sitting on the court are in the top 10 most pro-corporate justices in a half century; that Justices Alito and Roberts are numbers one and two – the most anti-consumer in this entire time.”
She echoed Trumka’s point that workers are really left out in the cold. “From tax policy to retirement security, the voices of hard-working people get drowned out by powerful industries and well-financed front groups.
“Those with power fight to take care of themselves and to feed at the trough for themselves even when it comes at the expense of working families getting a fair shot at a better future.”
Senator Warren, a strong supporter or organized labor and working families everywhere ended her opening high-octane speech on an upbeat note:
“(Labor’s) agenda is America’s agenda. The American people know that the system is rigged against them and they want us to level the playing field. That’s our mandate… If we don’t fight, we can’t win.
“However tough the challenge, however steep our climb, I am proud to stand with you, to march with you, and to fight side-by-side with you… if we fight for America’s agenda, we win!” she concluded to a standing ovation.