U.S.’s Most Powerful Labor Leader, Richard Trumka, Expresses Disappointment With Obama, Warns Hillary Clinton of Political Consequences If She Doesn’t Stand Against Pacific Trade Pact

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The nation’s most powerful labor leader, vowing to defeat President Obama’s key trade legislation in the House next month, warned Hillary Clinton of serious political consequences if she fails to take a stand against the Pacific trade pact that the president is campaigning for as a major part of his legacy.

Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, predicted that no more than 20 House Democrats would vote for Trade Promotion Authority, the “fast-track” bill that on Friday passed the Senate.

“Thirteen Democrats left their base,” he said of the Senate vote in an interview with Capital Download. “They decided to pass something that was going to cost jobs and lower wages, and they’re going to have to answer to their constituencies for that.” He added: “They’ll be held accountable; there’s no question about that.”

Organized labor has been waging a fierce battle against the legislation, which would require Congress to approve or reject without amendments the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal among the United States and 12 other Pacific Rim nations. Many labor unions have frozen campaign donations as they lobby against it.

The battle between two customary allies — a Democratic president and the country’s biggest labor federation — underscores the complicated politics of Obama’s attempts to pass legislation through a Republican-controlled Congress during the final two years of his tenure. It also exposes challenges ahead for Clinton, who praised the emerging Pacific pact as “the gold standard” in her memoirs as secretary of State but has avoided declaring her view of it since becoming a presidential candidate.

“Unfortunately, it falls far short of being the gold standard,” Trumka told USA TODAY’s video newsmaker series in an interview at AFL-CIO headquarters, just across Lafayette Square from the White House. “It’s not silver. I’m not sure it’s copper or some other form of metal, but it’s not gold, because it’s going to cost us jobs and it’s going to lower wages in this country.”

Trumka said he didn’t know where Clinton now stood on the issue.

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SOURCE: USA Today, Susan Page