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K Street Files: Trumka Optimistic on Reunification

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka said Wednesday that his leadership increases the odds that the breakaway Change to Win coalition will rejoin the nation’s largest labor group.

[IMGCAP(1)]“It’s going to help,— Trumka told reporters at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “I have a history of trying to unify people … a record of bringing people together.—

Trumka is expected to assume the presidency of the AFL-CIO when union delegates cast their votes at the 2009 AFL-CIO constitutional convention, which begins next week in Pittsburgh. Trumka would replace longtime AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, who also spoke at Wednesday’s breakfast.

Sweeney said the 2005 departure of the Service Employees International Union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and other unions was the biggest disappointment of his nearly 14 years as president.

“There was no good reason,— Sweeney said of the unions’ departures four years ago.

Former House Democratic Whip David Bonior (Mich.), who now runs a union coalition lobbying for “card check— legislation, is the lead negotiator for bringing the two union groups back together, a reunification that could help during contentious legislative debates involving the proposed Employee Free Choice Act and health care reform.

The son of a mine worker, Trumka began his union career as an official for the United Mine Workers of America. He said his experience in bringing together unionized miners, who often shared competing goals, will assist in bringing Change to Win back into the AFL-CIO fold — which he said already is happening under the radar.

“There’s a difference between unity in name and unity in purpose,— Trumka said. If you look at the last several issues, we’ve clearly had unity of purpose.—

“We’ll continue to work to try to have unity in name,— he continued. “We think there’s a good chance of it.—

The Change to Win press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

K St. Moves. Wal-Mart is beefing up its lobbying team, hiring former Bush administration official Sheila Greenwood. Greenwood, who served as assistant secretary for Congressional and intergovernmental relations for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, joins Wal-Mart as director of federal government relations. Greenwood will focus on tax issues and is replacing John Kelly. Kelly left Wal-Mart for Cornerstone Government Relations.

Anna Palmer contributed to this report.

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