Labor in '07 not as big as Labor in '03

There's a NYT's article on the potential of Labor endorsements that is worth the read. The 55 member unions of the AFL-CIO will not endorse anyone until the federation has decided whether to make an overall endorsement, which would take a two-thirds majority to get their endorsement.

Last cycle, Gephardt & Dean wound up getting big support from labor, but that doesn't appear the route that the AFL-CIO's Sweeney, "We learned from the last time" and AFSCME's McEntee "We made a big error" are going to take this cycle. Change to Win is also not going to endorse; and though SEIU's Stern seems more open to it, it's not for sure that they will endorse.

So what's next:

If neither labor federation endorses, that would open the door to individual unions' endorsements. Union leaders said that the American Federation of Teachers and the Office and Professional Employees International Union were leaning toward Mrs. Clinton and that Unite Here, the Teamsters and the steelworkers were leaning toward Mr. Edwards. A Unite Here endorsement would be a boon in Nevada, because its Las Vegas local has 40,000 members and could dominate that state's Democratic caucuses.

While in the spin room after the SC Debate, I interviewed the campaign manager for Edwards, David Bonior, and asked him about the endorsements. He predicted that Edwards would receive the endorsement more than half of those unions that endorsed. He also predicted that "Culinary" (UNITE-HERE 622), which is the big cahuna in NV politics, would go for Edwards.

Overall, it doesn't look like the Fall '07 labor endorsements will be as big a deal as were the Fall '03 labor endorsements. David Sirota has an informative post up on how Obama is not letting Edwards have the populist message all to himself. Obama is in a similar position, but any labor endorsements he gets will likely be Chicago-based, but he's got to make sure Edwards doesn't get labor endorsement momentum. And Clinton will be just as active in getting endorsements, or making sure that Edwards or Obama doesn't get them either, as well Dodd and Richardson.

The caveat that Bonior has there, half of those that endorsed, is that it might not be a very large number either way. The best-case scenario for Edwards, who was once presumed to have union support cornered, would seem to be him winning the Iowa caucus, and then getting the Culinary endorsement on the eve of the Nevada caucus; and Edwards/Bonior would likely have strong momentum to make the case going into the Michigan caucus.

Tags: 2008 Democratic primary (all tags)



although this is disappointing for Edwards

I think the fact that many unions will not endorse Clinton is a testament to how strong Edwards' positions on labor issues are.

If there were not a particularly strong candidate on these issues in the race, I suspect that labor would go with the flow and endorse Hillary (just as the unions all endorsed the heavy favorite Gore in 1999 despite his mixed record on labor issues, including being a leading public advocate for NAFTA).

by desmoinesdem 2007-08-01 06:52AM | 0 recs
Re: although this is disappointing for Edwards

Clinton is very strong on labor despite what many people claim on here. She yearly has a pretty good rating with labor unions. Edwards is more pro labor I agree, but an endorsement of Clinton would hardly be just "going with the flow"

by world dictator 2007-08-01 07:11AM | 0 recs
Re: although this is disappointing for Edwards

NAFTA?  Mark Penn?  That's okay, keep schilling for HRC.

by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2007-08-01 07:38AM | 0 recs
Re: although this is disappointing for Edwards

dude look at her AFL CIO ratings since shes been in congress. Thats all I need to prove my point.

by world dictator 2007-08-01 11:25AM | 0 recs
Re: 3 of the political directors of the largest un

And which unions are these, exactly?

There's a lot of support for Clinton with AFSCME, and less so with the teacher's unions, but I can't think of any other unions very pleased with her at the moment.

by ManfromMiddletown 2007-08-01 12:14PM | 0 recs
Re: although this is disappointing for Edwards

"Good for labor" means a helluva lot more for a presidential candidate than their legislative voting record.  Executives do a wholly different thing.  Who does Clinton nominate to the NLRB?  What does she push for a trade policy - for that matter, who is USTR in a Clinton admin?  Does the Secretary of Labor have as much sway as the Secretary of the Treasury or the Council of Economic Advisors?  These are more important than if she voted for EFCA.

by Peter from WI 2007-08-01 11:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Labor in '07 not as big as Labor in '03

I think they are avoiding endorsing because of what happened with Dean.  I heard on the radio 30% or Dem primary voters in NH and Iowa are union members even though nationallly only one in ten is, which I found interesting.  

by bookgrl 2007-08-01 07:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Labor in '07 not as big as Labor in '03

Labor is missing a king-making opportunity.  Edwards' poll numbers would receive strong boosts from most labor endorsements and AFL-CIO or Change to Win support could really push him over the hill in states like Iowa, Nevada, and a variety of Super Tuesday states.

I don't understand this general "play it safe" wisdom.  Does labor really think Hillary or Obama would hold it against them if they endorsed Edwards and he lost?  Labor will (for the foreseeable future) always be a strong contingency in the Democratic Party and no Democrat will backstab labor in the Executive, for the sake of a grudge, and risk losing their support for re-election.

by circlesnshadows 2007-08-01 07:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Labor in '07 not as big as Labor in '03

The unions are hedging their bets. They see the nomination as wide open and want to be in good stead with whomever is nominated. So no need to jump in and save Edwards by minimizing the non-endorsement.

by RandyMI 2007-08-01 07:40AM | 0 recs
Re: wide open??!!!

That's assuming those numbers will hold through the fall into winter, which I doubt.

by RandyMI 2007-08-01 11:53AM | 0 recs
Re: wide open??!!!

That's a national polling number before Labor Day.

Do YOU understand how the primaries work?  

by Peter from WI 2007-08-01 11:54AM | 0 recs
Re: wide open??!!!

You realize that at this point in 2003, Joseph Lieberman was leading, right?

History shows that national polls have little of no meaning 6 months out from Iowa, and that Iowa is notoriously unpredictable because it is a caucus rather than a primary.  Which means that all of Clinton's and Obama's support from voters not registered as Democrats has no meaning.

You have to be registered as a Democrat in order to vote in the caucuses.  Independents can't participate.

by ManfromMiddletown 2007-08-01 12:20PM | 0 recs

Just a correction, I believe the big Vegas culinary local is UNITE HERE Local 226, not 622.


by bignoise 2007-08-01 07:59AM | 0 recs
In These Times

did a good piece about this in June.

Some choice quotes:

Many labor strategists think that Obama will fade as the serious non-Hillary candidate and that Clinton's fate will be like that of Joe Lieberman's, who led the Democratic polling at this stage of the 2004 campaign....

The message strikes a classical, if increasingly mythical theme of American mobility, but Edwards' subtext conveys a strong egalitarian note and a hint of redistributive economics. Ultimately, he seems to understand that the country must become more equal in incomes and other real conditions of life in order to make equality of opportunity meaningful. Edwards also recognizes that creating equality of opportunity first requires redistributing power, which is why his support for unions is so critical for his strategy. Obama learned the same lesson early in his career as a community organizer, but his current campaign often overshadows that message of empowerment with its quest to find common ground in a new, less partisan Washington.

Edward's campaign made a huge mistake this spring engaging on the Iraq War, and not emphasizing the "Two Americas" message. And I think it remains to be seen whether Edwards can move beyond a poverty narrative towards one based in combatting inequality.

While they're treated the same by the media, they see the world in different ways, and suggest different solutions.

Being against poverty is easy, because anti-poverty efforts need not involve redistribution.  Because the povery narrative assumes that there's a certain absolute quantity of goods that constitute the poverty line. By growing the pie, we can give increase the amount of stuff that people at the bottom receive, while retaining the unequal distribution of wealth in society.

On the other hand, the inequality narrative sees the political power of redistrbution, arguing that the problem is not absolute, but relative.  That individuals loathe inequality rather than poverty,  and in fact are willing to forego wealth personally in order to create a more equal society.   Another recent article
by Christopher Hayes in In These Times describes an experiment by behavioral economist that smashes the presumption "more is always better than less"
that forms the basis of the economic orthodoxy that we are told is somehow natural and "scientific."

Behavioral economists at UC San Diego recently conducted a study in which tokens were distributed among experimental subjects, with a few getting a concentrated chunk of the wealth and a majority getting little. They offered the "poor" subjects the opportunity to pay a price to take money away from the rich. The catch was that rather than being redistributed, the money would simply disappear. Economic orthodoxy predicts that few would snap at the chance, since they'd be paying for something that would confer no direct benefit. But they did. In spades.

This is the key to the kingdom, the question is whether any of the candidates will be willing to take a leap of faith, and embrace an ineqaulity narrative.  

by ManfromMiddletown 2007-08-01 08:35AM | 0 recs
Re: Labor in '07 not as big as Labor in '03

Regardless of who is elected president, workers will still need to be mobilized to hold Congress & Co. accountable when all the pressure from the corporations start attacking health care etc.  That's what Labor 2008 is all about. We've got a lot to do and can make a big difference well beyond the prez election.

by Tula Connell 2007-08-02 07:13AM | 0 recs


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