On Wall Street today, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka  is calling for tough new regulations on the financial industry and a new approach to making the U.S. economy work for working people.
Trumka spoke today at the New York Stock Exchange as part of the new AFL-CIO leadership team’s national tour to set out a jobs-focused, progressive vision for the economy—and to fight back against the corporate agenda that left workers behind.
We’ve let wealth concentrate for too long, Trumka said. The past decade has shown us the folly of building an unfair and unequal economy that only works for a few, while working people pile up debt to get by. We need to be able to protect consumers from abuses by mortgage lenders and credit card companies and hold accountable those whose greed and irresponsibility have undermined the economy, Trumka said:
Banks and other financial institutions must be held accountable for making this mess that required trillions of dollars of our money to clean up. For the pain they’ve inflicted on families who face financial ruin—unemployment, wiped out pensions, foreclosures and bankruptcy.
We need a different model for our economy, where good jobs, not bad debts, drive our growth. Our real economy needs a financial system that will support it, not a high-risk system that only supports itself and the wiliest speculators.
Trumka supported President Barack Obama’s call for a new consumer protection agency that would have real power to crack down on unfair practices. He also called for tougher regulations on the hedge fund and derivative trading that contributed to our economic crisis.
The banks that have been propped up with billions in public funds can’t be allowed to go back to the way things were, Trumka said. We need to make sure they’re subjected to oversight, and that our investment is turning into jobs and broad-based economic growth, not executive bonuses. Trumka promised that the union movement would take the lead in educating and mobilizing the public to fight back against finance-industry abuses.
Speaking on the Rachel Maddow Show  last night, Trumka explained why we need to hold Obama and leaders in Congress to their promises and make sure they enforce real protections for consumers in the financial industry, because the current system has failed:
Today, Rachel, I talked to a woman in Atlanta, and she was making $1,162 a month on a fixed salary, and they gave her a $900 a month mortgage. That type of predatory lending should have been picked up by one of those agencies. It wasn’t.
Trumka said that union members across the country will watch carefully to make sure elected leaders are looking out for working people, not big banks and corporations:
What we’re going to do is make sure that they live by that. We’ll educate our members, we’ll mobilize our members. I think our members will hold them accountable on Election Day.
Trumka also spoke with Maddow about health care reform and the Employee Free Choice Act .
(Cross-posted from the AFL-CIO Now Blog.)