Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Labor Leadership in 2008

For those of you interested in labor's position on politics, there is an interesting NYT piece on where the AFL-CIO and Change to Win federations are in terms of endorsing candidates. I found this link at the blog, Standing with Labor and there is a solid analysis of the situation there. Basically, it breaks down to: 1) Unions don't want to jump on the bandwagon too soon so that they end up endorsing a candidate that has no chance of winning, but 2) if unions want to have the power (and do, in fact, have the power that they already claim), then they need to be able to push for their candidate. Picking someone who will win anyway is like telling the DLC-corporate Democrats, "Go ahead, you make your pick, then we will go along with that and beg for the table scraps from your candidate."

I have no doubt that Edwards is far better on labor issues than Clinton (who will inevitably be the candidate ordained by the New York AFL-CIO and UFT—and, therefore, AFT) and I don't know enough about Obama's record to know about his labor credentials to compare to Edwards. But, what I do know that Edwards has worked his ass off for the nomination of labor and, if they withhold it for the eventual 'winner', unions will be seen for a generation of Democratic candidates as 'fair-weather friends' and will have no influence at all. I can get behind an endorsement of someone I prefer less than my ideal candidate; but I can't get behind wishy-washy-we-don't-want-to-rock-to-many-boats political endorsements that mean more politics-as-horserace crap.

If unions want to reshape the political landscape and pass things like EFCA, then we have to take the leadership, and the attendant risks of leadership, to do it. If they want to be relegated to whining about candidates that never listen, then I don't want to hear it anymore. And, as Jordan point outs, with Iowa, Nevada and New Hampshire front-loaded, unions could really be a "king (or queen) maker"; it's up to union members and (to a much to-great extent) leaders to decide.


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