The AFL-CIO, worried that President Obama's long-awaited September jobs announcement will be inadequate, is threatening to boycott the Democratic National Convention and maybe the 2012 elections unless bold action is taken to ease unemployment.
"If they don't have a jobs program I think we'd be better to use our money doing other things," said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
The leader of the nation's largest union, who regularly visits the White House to talk with Obama, sounded a warning today that he is worried that the president will simply propose "nibbly" things to spark some job creation instead of laying out a bold plan and promising to challenge Republicans in Congress to pass it.
"People are frustrated and the more jobs aren't created, the more they're gonna get frustrated with everybody," he said in a Christian Science Monitor newsmaker roundtable breakfast.
"This is going to be a moment when history and our members are going to judge him and they are going to be making an opinion. And if he puts all of his emphasis and focus on jobs creation, it's going give them one picture," said Trumka. "And if he continues to do little nibbly things around the end that aren't going to make a difference and aren't going to solve a problem, that will give another picture." [Read: Seven Ways Obama Can Gain Credibility on Jobs.]
Besides suggesting that his national union won't attend the convention unless a big new jobs program is proposed, he also indicated that his union won't do much for Obama or Democrats in the 2012 elections.
Asked if union participation in the election will drop, he said, "I think yes. I think the overall population participation will drop. Because people, if they think there's not going to be any solution they get upset."
Oddly, he said that the union hasn't decided if it will participate in the convention though he said some affiliates already aren't going. That would be a slap at Obama. [See pictures of Obama behind the scenes.]
He demanded that the president not make any more spending cuts because it costs jobs. He also said that the union would oppose cuts to Social Security and Medicare and he cited a new government report to suggest that the deficit problem could be eased if the Bush tax cuts were allowed to die. [Check out political cartoons about the deficit and debt.]
And in advising the president on a jobs program, Trumka said that the president should stiffen his spine and propose a bold plan that challenges Republicans on the issue. "Do not look at what is possible [to win passage in Congress.] Look at what is necessary," said Trumka.