Biden Taps Son of Top Dem Donor for Product Safety Post

White House names son of AFL-CIO president to consumer regulatory body

AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, Sr. / Getty Images
July 14, 2021

President Joe Biden on Tuesday tapped the son of one of his closest political allies to an important federal post.

Biden appointed Rich Trumka Jr., son of AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which develops regulatory safety measures for manufactured goods. The AFL-CIO, the nation's largest labor organization, is one of the Democratic Party's most important financial backers. The union-affiliated For Our Future super PAC spent about $100 million to boost liberal candidates between 2016 and 2020. The union itself donated more than $1 million to Democratic candidates in 2020, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. And Biden's campaign received more than $39,000 from individuals associated with the union.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

The younger Trumka works on Capitol Hill for the House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy. Before that, he worked for the Consumer Protection Division of the Maryland attorney general's office. His father has served as president of the AFL-CIO since 2009—leading its more than 12 million active or retired members. The AFL-CIO quickly endorsed Biden in 2020 even as union members backed then-president Donald Trump's reelection. The endorsement helped Biden rally working-class votes in swing states that Trump won in 2016, such as Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Labor watchdogs expressed concern about Biden rewarding the children of his political allies with important government posts. Patrick Semmens, spokesman for the National Right to Work Committee, said he takes issue with the cozy relationship between the president and AFL-CIO.

"Apparently unleashing their forced dues-funded political machine to put Biden in the White House doesn't just buy support for Big Labor's vast agenda to coerce more workers into union ranks—it also purchases appointments for the family members of top union bosses," Semmens told the Washington Free Beacon.

The AFL-CIO did not respond to a request for comment.

Maxford Nelsen, director of labor policy for the Freedom Foundation, said that while Trumka appears to have relevant qualifications for the position, the connection to his father is still concerning.

"Biden's selection of Trumka for the Consumer Product Safety Commission is yet another example of the degree to which labor unions call the shots in the Biden administration," Nelsen told the Free Beacon. "Perhaps Biden's nomination of so many union officials for prominent administration positions has so depleted the labor movement's ranks that he must now resort to hiring their relatives."

The nomination marks the third Biden appointment this month to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. If confirmed by the Senate, Democratic appointees will have a 3-2 majority on the commission.

Biden often boasts of his career support for labor union, having pledged to become the most "pro-union" president in history. He has made the PRO Act—which would end "right-to-work" laws that allow private-sector employees to opt out of union membership—a top legislative priority in the opening months of his administration.