Unions: More Relevant than Ever

I'm pleased to announce that a representative from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters will be posting every Monday on MyDD until the election. We've noted on MyDD that on a practical level, unions are possibly the most critical piece of the progressive movement, and we're hoping that over the next few years the netroots and the union movement can work together to learn from each other and become stronger. The Teamsters will also be sponsoring Breaking Blue until the election, which will help keep MyDD running as traffic goes up. The Teamsters are going to try to give you a sense of the basics of unions and their political activity, which is something I wasn't aware of until a few years ago. This is a great opportunity to learn more about this critical piece of the Democratic party. Welcome, and enjoy. -- Matt

When FDR launched the New Deal and pulled millions of families out of poverty, labor unions were there to aid his cause.

When the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. led the fight for Civil Rights, union men and women were by his side.

When Robert F. Kennedy went on his crusade to help the plight of migrant farm workers in the Central California valley, he found inspiration in a union man: Cesar Chavez.

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Al Wynn Lies About Union Endorsements

This is literature from the Al Wynn campaign bragging about more than 40 endorsements from Democratic-allied groups.  The list includes the Teamsters, UNITE-HERE, and SEIU.

Here is a letter from the Teamsters demanding that Wynn retract his literature, as the Teamsters have endorsed Donna Edwards.

In addition, someone from the Donna Edwards campaign told me that UNITE-HERE just made a $5000 PAC donation to Edwards. I'm trying to track down a contact at SEIU, as I don't think they've endorsed Wynn either.

In addition to consistent violations of FEC laws which could be masking corporate contributions, two staffers who beat up a Donna Edwards supporter, and votes for the Energy Bill, the war, and a repeal of the estate teax, Wynn is now in trouble for lying about union support.  Oh, and the supporter that Wynn's people beat up is a Teamsters local officer, which makes it particularly unwise to be lying about their endorsement.

So far, Wynn has succssfully lied to the press about having monolithic support in the district from Democratic groups.  Ovetta Wiggins of the Washington Post reports on Wynn's support base, noting that Wynn's "campaign literature touts the backing of about 40 left-leaning groups, including the AFL-CIO and Planned Parenthood, as evidence that he remains a true Democrat." 

Wiggins didn't think to check the veracity of the literature, but she should have.  It's interesting that Wynn's behavior pattern is consistent across the board - he lies in the heat of a fight, both to the FEC, to voters, and to reports.  His staffers have violently attacked one of his opponent's volunteers.  Wynn is banking that he'll only have to face minor consequences for these actions, and that he'll be a sitting Congressman so he can use corporate money to pay any fines.  

Go Donna.

Update: I spoke to Tom Snyder of UNITE-HERE. That union has not made an endorsement in the race, and says that Wynn's literature is in error. I also found out that UNITE-HERE didn't in fact give money to Donna's campaign. I then spoke to Ellen Golombek of SEIU, who doesn't have her records in front of her either. Both of them have gotten calls from reporters on this matter.

My sense here is that the unions are trying to stay out of the race because Wynn's an incumbent, though it's clear that Wynn lied about getting support from UNITE-HERE and the Teamsters.

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Unions back key House GOP candidates

A Hillpiece today goes beyond anecdote and innuendo under hed Dem angst as unions split money.

In the lefty sphere, labor is the biggest dog that didn't bark in the night. Compared to Mike McCurry, say, it's got pitifully small space here in the last few months that I've been paying attention.

One reason (I'll put it no higher than that) may be the ambiguous relationship between labor and the Dems today. (It could also have to do with the AFL-CIO/CtW split, the bitter Sweeney/Stern rivalry, the persistance of labor rackeetering, or any number of other things.)

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Unions supporting pension-gutting bill!

There was a piece here yesterday (my own modest contribution with some links) which flagged the enormous hole (around $150 billion) that the latest pension bill currently in conference would dig in private pension schemes - that's the amount, according to the Federal agency the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, that the bill will permit employers to avoid contributing to such schemes.

Sounds like corporate welfare to me (though I'm no expert).

Now, I find (Boehner's boasting list) that several unions, including Unite To Win member UNITE HERE (but not fellow breakaways SEIU and the Teamsters, it seems) are backing the bill.

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