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Yellen a better Fed chief for workers: labor leader

Federal Reserve Vice Chair Janet Yellen addresses the 29th National Association for Business Economics Policy Conference in Washington March
Federal Reserve Vice Chair Janet Yellen addresses the 29th National Association for Business Economics Policy Conference in Washington March

By Amanda Becker

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Labor unions would prefer to see Federal Reserve Vice Chairwoman Janet Yellen as the head of the U.S. central bank over former White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers, a top labor leader said on Thursday.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said many of the problems that workers face are rooted in the policies of Fed chiefs who de-emphasized achieving full employment in favor of reducing inflation.

"This next person is going to have a decision to make," Trumka told reporters.

Yellen has shown more of a commitment to reducing unemployment than Summers has thus far, Trumka said.

"History would indicate that she is for a much more balanced approach," Trumka told reporters.

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

The AFL-CIO is the largest federation of labor unions in the United States. As its leader, Trumka is among a group that meets regularly with U.S. Senate Democrats to discuss policy issues, including presidential nominees.

Obama's Fed pick, after being vetted by the White House, will go through Senate confirmation.

Trumka, who was speaking with reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast briefing about labor issues, said the new leader of the Fed would play an important role in righting the course for U.S. workers.

Trumka declined to say whether the AFL-CIO or its member unions would seek to block the confirmation of Summers if he was the White House nominee, but he said labor leaders would be involved in the selection process.

The White House has said no decisions have been made about Bernanke's successor, and the president is unlikely to announce the nominee until autumn.

(Reporting by Amanda Becker; Editing by Howard Goller and Kenneth Barry)

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