- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 28, 2014

The country’s largest labor union won’t endorse any Democrat who has the same economic team as President Obama and won’t be getting behind Hillary Rodham Clinton early in the 2016 presidential race, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said Thursday.

“If you get the same economic team, you’re going to get the same results. The same results aren’t good enough for working people,” he said.

Mr. Trumka, who leads the AFL-CIO federation of 56 unions, with more than 12 million members, said repeatedly that the working Americans were still “hurting” amid a lethargic economic recovery.

PHOTOS: Are you ready for some football? These NFL WAGs sure are

“For most folks, it seems to be an economy of stagnation,” Mr. Trumka said at a breakfast with reporters hosted by The Christian Science Monitor.

As for the 2016 race to replace Mr. Obama, Mr. Trumka said the union would withhold an endorsement until the field fills out and union leaders collectively vet all the candidates, thereby avoiding a repeat of 2008, when several unions split endorsements between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama.

“We’ve signed an agreement with all the unions of the AFL-CIO [that] no one will endorse until we decide that all of us are going to endorse,” Mr. Trumka said told reporters.

PHOTOS: Conservatives in Hollywood: Celebrities who lean right

“We will call in and question all of the candidates,” he said. “One of our biggest concerns is who is the candidate’s economic team, because if the present economic team doesn’t change, you are going get the same results.”

The AFL-CIO didn’t endorse Mrs. Clinton in 2008, waiting until late in the contentious Democratic primary race to get behind Mr. Obama. Other unions split endorsements between the two.

Mr. Trumka praised the qualifications of Mrs. Clinton, who was secretary of state and a U.S. senator from New York. But he said that it was “too early” to make an endorsement.

Hillary did an excellent job as secretary of state. I think she is very, very qualified to be president,” he said. “Would I say that she is the favorite now? Yes. But I think any time anybody believes there is going to be a coronation, that’s dangerous to the candidate.”

He said the promise of a coronation could make a candidate complacent.

“That’s not good for the candidate, because the candidate needs to be developing the grass-roots system and support across the country, and the deeper you go, the better off that candidate is,” Mr. Trumka said. “And I think, quite frankly, that is precisely what [Mrs. Clinton] is going to do.”

Mr. Trumka named other potential Democratic contenders for the White House, including Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who has been aggressively laying the groundwork for a 2016 run.

Later, Mr. Trumka repeated his indictment of Mr. Obama’s economic policies, urging Mrs. Clinton to chart a different course.

He said Mr. Obama also had come up short on championing pro-union policies.
“I think he’s trying,” Mr. Trumka said. “Is it enough? We’d like to see more.”

Story Continues →