Matthews And Trumka On Mining Safety, Regulations And The Mid-Term Elections

Chris Matthews and Richard Trumka discussed the rescue of the Chilean mine workers and the need for better safety laws for miners around the world. As both of them noted the Republican Party has gotten so radical with their anti-regulation rhetoric
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Chris Matthews and Richard Trumka discussed the rescue of the Chilean mine workers and the need for better safety laws for miners around the world. As both of them noted the Republican Party has gotten so radical with their anti-regulation rhetoric that if they had their way, those miners would have all died.

MATTHEWS: Joining me now is an old pal of this show, the AFL-CIO president, Richard Trumka.

I want to get to -- because this guy worked in a mine, half mile down. You know what it was like. By the way, let`s start with that, because this is very human interest.

TRUMKA: Sure.

MATTHEWS: We haven't talked about it tonight. But it is thrilling to watch those guys. You were there at the Chilean embassy.

TRUMKA: I was, when they were bringing the first miners out. And I can tell you, they were like other brothers and it was almost like I hit the lottery. There`s this feeling of elation because the earth nominally doesn't give up a live body after that being trapped underground that long. This one, when the first miner came out, it was like my brother or my uncle, my dad or anybody coming out. It was such a win for us.

But it brings up two other issues I think we have to look at because -- one, we are very, very elated that these miners are safe. Second of all, we have to thank the rescue workers that got them there. And third, it's the lack of health and safety in the mines of the world doesn't know boundaries.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

TRUMKA: Because you have to have good laws that are -- and you have to have the people with the will to enforce them and the resources to get it done, and we don`t have that in the mining industry.

MATTHEWS: OK. I got another elation out of it. I've never been a miner like you. We just talked about claustrophobia, which I think I probably would have down there. Some guys would be susceptible to it.

You are third generation of working down deep in the mines.

TRUMKA: Correct.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s talk about what sort of the message for a lot of the people was, the message coming out of the Tea Party people, and a lot of them are good people, is every man for himself basically, no more taxes, no more government, no more anything, no more safety net, no more health care for everybody, everybody just out get out there make your buck, save it, screw the government, move on, right?

TRUMKA: Yes.

MATTHEWS: You know, these people, if they were every man for themselves down in that mine, they wouldn`t have gotten out.

TRUMKA: That`s exactly right.

MATTHEWS: They would have been killing each other after about two days. This is a story of how people can work together, the people who were down there for two months, the people who are above ground from all over the world, using state-of-the-art equipment, not to get rid of the need for manpower but to save manpower in this case.

TRUMKA: You know, this is just another example of how radical the Republican Party is becoming, do away with the minimum wage. You just talked about that. Bad policy, it will wreck the economy.

If you didn't have government regulation, you wouldn't have clean water, you wouldn't have cars that were safe, you wouldn't have electricity that you could afford -- I mean, just a number of things where you need a good, efficient government and they just --

MATTHEWS: Why do people buy the rhetoric?

TRUMKA: I don`t think they do buy it.

MATTHEWS: They say get rid of all regulation, get rid of taxes, get rid of government, and yet when they buy it. I was like -- we're Catholic. On Friday, we always had tuna fish, right? And you open up the can, you want to know somebody besides the guy making buck off of it made sure it was clean, wasn't ptomaine in there.

TRUMKA: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: When you're getting up on an airplane, I want to know there is some kind of FAA that's looking at regulation and safety. I want to know there's somebody besides the guy making the buck. Doesn't everybody have it when it comes to them, they believe in government?

TRUMKA: I think what they try to sell is, every person should do that for themselves. And no one, no worker has the wherewithal to do that. If you are rich, you might be able to taste -- buy somebody or have somebody taste your food for you. But they can't afford, I couldn't afford to make sure my plane are safe, that I'm properly regulated, my drinking water is safe, that the food is a safe that we do, that the automobiles that we drive have been improved year after year to protect it health and safety.

It`s a foolish, foolish --

MATTHEWS: What are you going to do? You got a guy named Raese out in West Virginia, may beat the governor down there, I don't think he will, but he may beat the governor who`s a middle of the road Democrat, he's no lefty.

You got this guy Joe Miller out there in Alaska who knocked off Murkowski who I thought was pretty conservative.

What is going on with your rank and file right now? What are you guys talking about when you get together at the union headquarters? What`s going on with your own people?

TRUMKA: Our guys are pretty excited right now. Early on, I think there might have been a little bit of a gap in enthusiasm. Not so now. They actually see the difference between what`s at stake here.

We either are going to continue to go forward and try to build an economy that works for everybody, or we're going to go back to where these guys want to go, where there's no minimum wage, where there's no health and safety laws, when there's no unemployment compensation.

Our people, working Americans, don't buy that. But it is another example of how radical right the Republican Party is becoming.

MATTHEWS: You know, I listen to Ed Schultz on this network and I think sometimes he's got it dead right, because I hear him with the labor, you guys are right, sometimes. I think you are mostly right. In fact, wait until you hear my close tonight.

I think you`re dead right on this whole issue of this whole idea of getting money from other countries and getting involved in our politics. They only interested in one thing, getting cheaper stuff from us, selling our stuff here, the whole deal.

TRUMKA: They are looking out for themselves.

MATTHEWS: Nobody is going to give money to our election unless they are getting something out of America that we are losing.

Anyway, thank you, Richard Trumka, for coming on.

TRUMKA: You bet.

MATTHEWS: A real miner.

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