AFL-CIO changes tune, but union skepticism remains

American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations President Richard Trumka, who early Tuesday morning criticized the bipartisan "fiscal cliff" deal that has since passed the Senate, has now hailed it as a "breakthrough" -- while repeating some of his earlier concerns. 

"The agreement passed by the Senate last night is a breakthrough in beginning to restore tax fairness and achieves some key goals of working families," Trumka said in a statement. He notes that the agreement does not cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits, raised some taxes on the rich and extended unemployment benefits. 

But, also said the union was disappointed that taxes on the rich were not raised more, that the sequester was postponed and that the debt ceiling was left on the table. 

As the deal was being negotiated early New Year's morning, Trumka took to Twitter with that critique. "It's not a good fiscal cliff deal if it gives more tax cuts to 2 percent and sets the stage for more hostage taking," he wrote

The American Federation of Teachers has endorsed the agreement, as well, calling the deal important, if "imperfect." 

The National Federation of Federal Employees, meanwhile, is opposed. “The proposed fiscal cliff solution is a bad deal for federal employees," President William R. Dougan said in a statement Tuesday.. "If we are to maintain a government capable of serving the vital needs of its people, we must put a permanent end to the non-stop partisan brinksmanship that has brought us to the edge so many times." 

The American Federation of Government Employees was less harsh, with president J. David Cox Sr. saying members were "glad to see a bill that requires the wealthiest Americans begin to pay a fairer share of taxes." But he added, the union is "very concerned about the use of additional agency funding cuts in order to pay for the delay of the sequester." He suggested cutting payments to federal contractors instead.  

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