On December 29, Phillip Akins, former financial secretary and treasurer of United Mine Workers Local 1987, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama for embezzling more than $9,500 in funds from the Jasper, Ala. union. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Barack Obama, like any Democratic president, has serious IOUs to labor unions. And AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, more than any other labor leader, is one ally he can't afford to alienate. About the last thing Obama wants, especially as his party faces heavy losses in congressional elections this November, is the subject of Trumka's lengthy track record of aggression and corruption to come up. Major media, for the most part, have obliged him in the wake of the round of speeches yesterday at the Milwaukee Area Labor Council Laborfest, making little or mention of inconvenient facts. It isn't as if Obama or top members of his administration are complaining.
On November 3, Raymond Watson, former financial secretary of Local 717 of the United Mine Workers in Ilion (Herkimer County), New York, was charged the Village of Ilion Court with grand larceny in the amount of $1,759 through unauthorized use of a union credit card. The charge follows a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and local police.
In Barack Obama, organized labor knows it has its man in the White House. Arguably more than any U.S. president in history, President Obama supports the union domestic agenda, ever and always anchored in aggressive government intervention in the economy. And union officials support him, having provided indispensable financial and logistical support for his campaign last year. To show his appreciation, Obama was in downtown Pittsburgh today to address the AFL-CIO's quadrennial convention. His speech is the highlight of the labor confab at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, which will run through Thursday.
Almost nobody doubts that come September, Richard Trumka will become the AFL-CIO's next president, replacing the retiring John Sweeney. Having occupied the labor federation's secretary-treasurer position for nearly 14 years, he's done everything his boss and the ideological faithful could ask of him. That's a major reason why he and his slate are running almost unopposed. But more than Sweeney, Trumka, a trained lawyer, has a palpably combative edge, much of it honed during his tenure as head of the United Mine Workers of America.