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Palin Blasts Labor Leader, Calls Conservatism a Better Fit for Union Workers

AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on Thursday night responded to an attack from the president of the AFL-CIO, refusing to back down from her claim that union leaders behave like "thugs." While blasting union leadership for using "scare tactics" to promote a "big government agenda," Palin painted herself as a better representative of union members and blue collar workers.

Yesterday during a speech he delivered in Alaska, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called Palin "almost a parody of herself" who will "go down in history like McCarthy."

"In this charged political environment, her kind of talk gets dangerous," Trumka said at the Alaska AFL-CIO Biennial Convention. "'Don't retreat... reload' may seem clever, the kind of bull you hear all the time, but put it in context. She's using crosshairs to illustrate targeted legislators. She's on the wrong side of the line there. She's getting close to calling for violence. And some of her fans take that stuff seriously."

Trumka also criticized Palin for referencing "union thugs," a loaded term given the history of labor unions in the United States.

Palin initially responded via Twitter but wrote a longer response on Facebook. She said it was "ironic" that a union boss would accuse her of threatening violence, citing "attempts by SEIU to intimidate those who wanted to make their voices heard in last year's town halls," as well as Trumka's involvement in the 1990's in a union corruption case.

By contrast, Palin said, "I was just an ordinary, card-carrying union member, not one of the big shots who ended up, unfortunately, giving unions a bad name." Palin boasted she is "a former card-carrying IBEW sister married to a proud former IBEW and later USW member."

The former GOP vice presidential candidate implored her "hardworking, patriotic brothers and sisters in the labor movement" to disavow labor union "nonsense," such as backing the "government takeover" of the auto industry.

"There is a different home for you: the commonsense conservative movement," she said. "It cares about the same things you and I care about: a government that doesn't spend beyond its means, an economy focused on creating good jobs with good wages, and a leadership that is proud of America's achievements and doesn't go around apologizing to everyone for who we are."

Palin also blasted the so-called "card check legislation that some characterize as being unfair to workers, and even un-American, because of its insistence on stripping workers of their right to privacy with a secret ballot."

"Card check" refers to the Employee Free Choice Act -- legislation that would eliminate employers' ability to demand a secret-ballot election during the union-forming process, thereby streamlining the process of union organizing. Other main components of the bill include increased penalties on employers who violate labor laws in trying to dissuade employees from organizing. The bill is highly contentious, with most opposition coming from businesses, and appears to be making no progress in Congress.

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