UPDATE 1-AFL-CIO says will not oppose Summers for Fed, for now

Mon Sep 9, 2013 7:25pm EDT

Related Topics

* Labor federation says leaving options open

* Trumka has made clear that AFL-CIO prefers Yellen

By Amanda Becker

LOS ANGELES, Sept 9 (Reuters) - The AFL-CIO said on Monday it is leaving its options open on whether it will oppose the nomination of Lawrence Summers to be chairman of the Federal Reserve if he is the White House's pick to head the U.S. central bank.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka had told reporters on Sunday his group would not join liberal groups openly opposing Summers. "We're not going to get involved in a campaign against anybody," he said at the federation's quadrennial convention.

A spokesman on Monday said this only applies as President Barack Obama weighs his options for a Fed chief and that it could change if the White House chooses Summers over Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Janet Yellen, who has labor's support.

"All options remain on the table" in that scenario, the AFL-CIO's Josh Goldstein said.

Yellen and Summers are believed to be the Democratic president's top candidates to succeed Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, whose second four-year term ends in January.

The AFL-CIO's 57 member unions represent more than 12 million workers in a variety of industry sectors.

The convention will set the federation's agenda for the next four years. Trumka has been candid that labor prefers Yellen.

"She understands that the Federal Reserve has two jobs: One is to fight inflation; the other is to seek full employment," Trumka said. "The last several Federal Reserve chairmen have not remembered their two-pronged test; they only remembered fighting inflation."

Trumka said Yellen was prescient in predicting the banking crisis and would stand up for the country's workers.

Obama's Fed pick, after being vetted by the White House, would have to be confirmed by the Senate.

The White House has said no decisions have been made about Bernanke's successor, and the president is expected to announce his nominee in coming weeks.

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