Trumka weak on BLM, coup and more

Submitted by martin on 31 August, 2021 - 5:47
Richard Trumka

Much of what Eric Lee writes for Solidarity is very good, such as last month’s article on the LGBTI movement’s struggle in Georgia, but his contributions on US politics sit very strangely on the pages of a revolutionary socialist publication. Lots of good articles for the price of a bit of rubbish every so often isn’t an awful deal, but it shouldn’t go unchallenged.

In his obituary (Solidarity 603) for American union bureaucrat Richard Trumka, he laments that this death received less coverage in the British press than that of “Barry the barred owl”. Thankfully the Morning Star has answered Lee’s complaint and reprinted the obituary written by their sister party in the US, which laughably calls Joe Biden “a long, strong and public friend of organised labour”. Another glowing tribute came from Thomas Donohue, the former president of the US Chamber of Commerce writing in the Wall Street Journal, who writes that both Trumka and himself “understood on a fundamental level that business and labor had intertwined destinies”, and praises Trumka’s central role in bringing Democrats in Congress over to supporting Trump’s US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the “sequel” to NAFTA.

Trumka was lauded by some on the left for his speech during Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign challenging white workers who wouldn’t vote for Obama because he’s black. That seems like quite a low bar, however, and is undercut by his appearance on Fox News last year to attack Black Lives Matters protesters for their violence.

Following Trump’s loss in the election, it seemed possible that he might try to cling onto power and carry out a coup. The Vermont AFL-CIO passed a motion calling for a general strike if Trump refused to leave, despite the fact that Trumka had written to them declaring such a resolution unconstitutional. In February this year Trumka attacked the Biden administration for cancelling the environmentally devastating Keystone XL pipeline.

Biden’s planned labour reform, the PRO Act, certainly has much good about it, preventing anti-unionisation abuse from management and allowing secondary strikes. However, it’s far from a panacea, it has serious problems outlined by James Hoff writing for Left Voice, and anyway looks unlikely to beat the predictable Senate filibuster.

Pete Boggs, Cheshire

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