Trumka Hopes to Expand AFL-CIO to Include Non-Union Activists

Trumka Hopes to Expand AFL-CIO to Include Non-Union Activists

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is proposing that the national labor union become partners with the Sierra Club and the NAACP, even accepting their ranks as members of the AFL-CIO.

“What we’ve been doing the last 30 years hasn’t worked real well,” Trumka said on Capital Download. “We need to do things differently… None of us are big enough to be able to change the climate out there, whether it’s economic, political or legislative. And all of us realize it takes all of us working together to get it done.”

Trumka has said of the labor movement, “We are in crisis.” In 2012, only 11.3% of American wage and salary workers were unionized; in 1982, that figure was 20.1%. The 2012 figures were the lowest in almost 100 years. 

Cathy Duvall of the Sierra Club acknowledged, “We’re in conversations with the AFL-CIO about a more formalized partnership.”

The proposed alliance could bring to light differences among the groups and even lead to conflict. For example, the Building Trades, comprised of construction workers, supports the Keystone XL Pipeline for its projected jobs; the Sierra Club opposes it.