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​AFL-CIO's Trumka on working-class voters, TPP, climate change and more




Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, gestures while speaking during Day 1 of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 25, 2016.
Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, gestures while speaking during Day 1 of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 25, 2016.
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

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While labor unions seem to be political animals of yesteryear's establishment, their top issues align with the most popular themes of this election year: trade deals, manufacturing jobs, wage disparities, and immigration.

Richard Trumka, as head of the AFL-CIO representing 12.5 million workers, is trying to capitalize on progressives' momentum by railing against the Trans-Pacific Partnership while he stumps for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (who supported TPP while she served as Secretary of State).

That said, Trumka has his own internal political battles to fight. Earlier this year the AFL-CIO joined forces with billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer to establish a political action committee called For Our Future. Seven unions within Trumka's confederation condemned the partnership because of Steyer's opposition to the Keystone pipeline and all the jobs for builders, engineers, and welders that would have come with it.

Trumka joins AirTalk to address that controversy, plus his thoughts on the nation's immigration laws, the Donald Trump campaign, and more.

How are labor unions staying relevant while union membership remains low (11 percent of all wage and salary workers in 2015, compared to 20 percent in 1983)? How is the AFL-CIO trying to combat the lure of Donald Trump for some blue-collar workers?

Guest:

Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations)