The leader of a major union is accusing Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO, of betraying union members to please a major environmentalist donor.
Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), scolded Trumka for “selling [the AFL-CIO’s] political agenda to a job killing hedge fund manager with a bag of cash.”
The letter is a response to the AFL-CIO’s new partnership with the billionaire environmentalist and hedge-fund manager, Tom Steyer.
Steyer and Trumka have formed a new Super PAC, titled For Our Future Super PAC. The PAC will be used by both Steyer and Trumka, in conjunction with the AFL-CIO, to bolster Democrat campaigns across the country in 2016. Steyer has promised to match all contributions that unions put into the PAC.
Seven other presidents of North America’s Building Trades Unions got together to send a second letter to Trumka in response to the partnership with Steyer. The group says it represents over 3 million skilled workers in the United States and Canada.
In the letter sent to Trumka, the representatives for the building trade union group said they will not contribute to the For Our Future PAC and pushed the AFL-CIO to rethink their relationship with Steyer, who has a history of killing jobs under the banner of environmentalism.
According to the Washington Post, Sullivan wrote in his personal letter to Trumka, “with your blessing and support, Tom Steyer has purchased the backing, prestige, and control of the AFL-CIO, and will now use it to advance his own agenda, promote his own views, and further his own political ambitions.”
“This scheme is the logical outcome of an obsession with, and a desire to throw open the doors of labor to, outside organizations that are completely out of touch with the needs and concerns of ordinary, blue-collar working Americans,” Sullivan wrote to Trumka. The LIUNA union claims it has 500,000 members.
Years of financial distress have left the A.F.L.-C.I.O. desperate for cash, and it appears that the answer is to sell out to a billionaire who not only has little or no stake in our movement, our members or their work but who has actively fought against our members’ interest.
The For Our Future Super PAC will be run by Paul Tewes, a Democratic political operative who worked as a political director for President Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Tewes’ appointment is especially troubling to the building trades because of his extensive work against the Keystone XL pipeline, whose construction would have employed thousands of union workers. Steyer and many other environmentalists strongly opposed the pipeline.