Richard Trumka, most likely the next president of the AFL-CIO, hinted that he will be a more militant and aggressive labor boss than his predecessors. Well, that’s a tough bar to clear, so it’ll be interesting to see what exactly the current AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer has in mind. I’m particularly curious to know what “innovative techniques” consists of:
“Here’s the deal,” the 59-year-old Trumka said. “For employers who want to work with us and want to work with workers, we’ll be the best friend they ever had. For those that want to abuse people, take benefits away, jettison retirees, then we are going to do everything in our power to stop that from happening.
“And we will use innovative techniques.”
If history is a guide, Trumka’s “innovative techniques” will certainly be interesting fodder for the media. But I suspect that people are more interested in finding jobs to pay the bills and put food on the table than staging media spectacles that will inevitably draw scorn and ridicule:
Hints may be visible in how the third-generation Pennsylvania coal miner harnessed civil disobedience and other tactics of the 1960s-era civil rights movement in leading successful strikes against the mining companies in the 1980s — sit-ins, blockades of roads, mine occupations, picketing of corporate headquarters, and ensuring media coverage of police dragging away protesting miners.
These types of tactics will only hasten the unions’ decline. As I said in the article, “in years past, people could name union leaders like Walter Reuther and Samuel Gompers. Sweeney and Trumka have followed the unions in their gradual descent.”