One of the few bright spots in the recent development of the labor movement is the election of Rich Trumka as president of the AFL-CIO. A quick view of the succession of AFL-CIO presidents, from Meany to Kirkland to Sweeney to Trumka, shows that the political views of each gets a bit more leftish. This corresponds to the increasingly weak and desparate state of the labor movement - though of course lagging behind the real situation.
Trumka is a veteran of the ferocious Pittston strike in the 80s. He was president of the United Mine Workers and lead the UMW into the Labor Party in the 90s. The UMW is a blue-collar union of workers actually making goods, not moving paper or providing labor services. The recent demonstrations in Chicago against the bankers convention there were the biggest mobilization labor has had in awhile - and it was highly visible. Trumka just today warned the Democrats that a bad health plan and a lack of financial regulation will lead workers to stay home in droves in 2010, as they did in 1994 under Clinton. He pointed out that workers at that time did not see a dimes worth of difference between the partys' practice, inspite of the Democrats happy labor sloganeering.
Trumka could help lead to a new attitude towards labor's electoral and strike practice. Watch Trumka.