Today, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka blasted Sarah Palin at a speech in Alaska:
“And down in Tyler, Texas, she’s talking about — and I quote — ‘union thugs.’ What? Her husband’s a union man. Is she calling him a thug? Sarah Palin ought to know what union men and women are,” Trumka will say. “That’s poisonous. There’s history behind that rhetoric. That’s how bosses and politicians in decades past justified the terrorizing of workers, the murdering of organizers.”
Trumka was referring to a June speech by Palin in Tyler’s Oil Palace. In the speech, she said she would have waived the Jones Act to help with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill’s clean-up, adding, “Some unions not might not like it, not the union membership, but the union leaders, too many, who are thugs.”
Palin’s quote about thugs clearly differentiates between rank-and-file union members and union leaders. Perhaps the reason why Trumka is so offended is that he’s exactly the kind of thuggish union leader Sarah Palin was talking about. A quick history lesson:
On the orders of the United Mine Workers (UMW), 16,000 miners went on strike in 1993. One subcontractor, Eddie York (who was not a UMW member), decided it was important to support his wife and three children and crossed picket lines to get to his job. He was shot in the head as he left the job site to go home. UMW President Richard Trumka … told The Washington Times that “if you strike a match and put your finger in, common sense tells you you’re going to burn your finger.” UMW strike captain Jerry Dale Lowe was found guilty of weapons charges and conspiracy in York’s death, and York’s widow Wanda sued the union for her husband’s wrongful death. The UMW fought the lawsuit for four years, but settled with Wanda York only two days after federal prosecutors announced that they would share evidence from the criminal trial with York’s attorneys.
If Trumka doesn’t want union leaders to be called thugs, he should not have spent so many years acting like one.