Some AFL-CIO unions boycotting 2012 Democratic convention?
posted at 12:30 pm on August 13, 2011 by Ed Morrissey
The selection of Charlotte, North Carolina for the Democratic national convention in 2012 has prompted a boycott from one of the party’s most reliable and needed constituencies. More than a dozen unions in the AFL-CIO have informed DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz in writing that they will not attend the convention, which takes place over Labor Day but will also be held in a city with no unionized hotels, and in a right-to-work state:
About a dozen trade unions plan to sit out the 2012 Democratic convention because they’re angry that it’s being held in a right-to-work state and frustrated that Democrats haven’t done enough to create jobs.
The move could pose a larger problem for President Barack Obama next year if an increasingly dispirited base of labor activists becomes so discouraged that it doesn’t get the rank-and-file to the polls in the usual strong numbers.
This is the second straight time that the Democrats staged their convention at a non-union venue. In December 2007, after the DNC chose right-to-work Denver, Colorado and non-union venues for its 2008 convention, the AFL-CIO threatened to “blow up” Denver and turn it into Chicago 1968. In the same month, Obama went non-union for a campaign event in New Hampshire, which provoked the ire of the labor movement; he finally got a deal with the unions to avoid the spectacle of Democratic delegates and candidates crossing picket lines to get into its own events by, er, agreeing to speak nicely about unions at the event.
The DNC chose North Carolina because they are afraid of losing it to the Republicans in 2012, and they should be. It’s not exactly going to help their cause when angry union protesters descend on Charlotte, demanding that the state implement closed-shop laws that force workers to pay union dues, and they appear angry enough to do it:
The unions — all part of the AFL-CIO’s building and construction trades unit — told party officials this week they are gravely disappointed that labor was not consulted before Democrats settled on Charlotte, N.C., where there are no unionized hotels.
“We find it troubling that the party so closely associated with basic human rights would choose a state with the lowest unionization rate in the country due to regressive policies aimed at diluting the power of workers,” Mark Ayers, president of the building trades unit, wrote in a letter to Democratic Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
On the other hand, the threat of protesters might be a little overblown. They don’t have the cash, which is another reason why some of these unions wouldn’t have attended anyway. Want to guess why?
He said money is also a major factor, when unions are spending millions trying to beat back efforts by Republican lawmakers to curb union rights in Wisconsin, Ohio and other states. “It would be disappointing to our members to see us doing business as usual, diverting resources that we know are scarce, when we should be laser-like focused on getting elected officials focused on the jobs agenda,” Monroe said.
Their biggest problem isn’t the right-to-work laws in North Carolina. It’s the fortunes they’re blowing trying to reverse the public-employee union reforms that give government workers a choice in paying union dues in Wisconsin and Ohio that will prevent them from serious political activism in North Carolina. On one hand, that makes unions less likely to make trouble for Democrats in Charlotte, so that’s good news for Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. On the other hand, it makes them much less likely to make trouble for Republicans the rest of the year, which is good news for the rest of the country.
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