By: Trevor Loudon
The US labor movement has no intention of abandoning President Barack Obama‘s reelection effort.
Organized labor will not allow a Republican to win the presidency, Michael Podherzer, the AFL-CIO‘s political director said in an interview with Politico last week. Podhorzer, incidentally, is the former husband of recently departed Obama “Energy Czar” Carol Browner.
According to the Communist Party USA‘s Peoples World, Podherzer made it clear that despite disappointment over deals the president has made with Congress, Obama is a far better alternative to any potential Republican candidate. “I don’t think that the labor movement will be on the sidelines with President Obama facing reelection,” he said.
The National Education Association was the first to endorse the reelection campaign earlier this year and a political resolution passed Aug. 16 at the Steelworkers convention in Las Vegas pledges that union to work for the president’s reelection.
Almost everyone you talk to in the labor movement, including top leadership in unions like the USW, however, is worried about being able to bring the membership along for Obama.
They believe that the way to make this happen is for Obama to come out swinging for jobs. They want the president’s plan to be the type of bold plan laid out recently by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.They support her bill because through fair taxation of the wealthy it has the government directly creating millions of jobs in infrastructure and public services.
The labor movement is trying to make clear to the administration that more fight is needed on the jobs front.
Another important point is that the discussions about labor’s role in the 2012 elections come amidst a major shift in the AFL-CIO’s entire approach to its election work.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka talked about the shift publicly in May when he said the days when unions just handed money to endorsed candidates were over.
He outlined a strategy that emphasizes building a grassroots infrastructure for labor’s political activity and mobilization of voters, particularly on the state level. A state-of-the-art phone bank built, owned and operated by a local union, for example, can help unions continue their political activity in between and after elections.
The recall campaigns in Wisconsin and the campaign to repeal the anti-union SB 5 law in Ohio are examples of this new approach by the labor movement, union activists say.
Podhorzer points out, however, that the new direction does not mean unions will abstain from the presidential race, campaigns that have national significance or from campaigns that involve the labor movement’s proven friends.
“I think our approach will be more toward investing our resources where there is a really pro-worker candidate and where there is a good opportunity to win,” Podhorzer said. He says that someone like Ohio’s Sen. Sherrod Brown or someone like Elizabeth Warren, were she to challenge Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., are the types of candidates that the AFL-CIO would support.
He says Blue Dog Democrats that don’t support labor’s agenda will not be getting active union backing.
Podhorzer also revealed that unions are also planning to change how they finance their electoral activity.
The AFL-CIO’s executive committee approved creation last month of a “super-PAC” that will be allowed to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money. Thus far the AFL-CIO has been limited by election law to contacting only its members, but with the super-PAC, it can bring its message to non-union voters as well.
Podhorzer says the new approach is part of a strategy to put more emphasis on issues of importance to labor and help the labor movement expand outreach. “It is not meant to compete with Karl Rove and raise hundreds of millions of dollars,” he said.
Orgainized labor is Obama’s only shot at retaining the Presidency in 2012.
All patriotic union members need to resign from their unions immediately, unless they believe in a socialist USA.