Team Obama to unions: Bail out our convention, will ya?

The ongoing scandal in the North Carolina Democratic Party isn’t the only dark cloud on the horizon for the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte this year.  Even though the lovefest on the Left has been reduced to three days from the traditional four, the Democrats are still coming up millions of dollars short in the funds necessary to pay for the event.  Barack Obama’s campaign has had to go hat in hand to the unions for the cash, thanks to his insistence that corporate money is too dirty:

President Barack Obama’s political advisers are pressing labor unions to contribute to the Democratic convention in September to cover a fundraising shortfall resulting from their self-imposed ban on corporate donations, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Democratic officials gave representatives of the major U.S. unions, including the AFL-CIO, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the United Auto Workers, a tour of the convention sites in Charlotte, North Carolina, April 23 in advance of a request for donations, according to the two people, who requested anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss internal strategy.

The three-day convention will culminate in Obama’s re- nomination in Bank of America Stadium on Sept. 6. So far, the host committee in Charlotte is roughly halfway to its $36.6 million goal.

Four years ago, unions contributed more than $8 million to the Democratic convention in Denver, according to financial disclosure reports.

That may be a tough sale.  Obama hasn’t delivered on much for the unions, although Democrats in the Senate did last night.  In timing that can only be called curious, Democrats united to keep an NLRB rule in place that allows “ambush elections” to take place:

Let the “ambush elections” begin: The Senate today rejected an attempt to overturn a National Labor Relations Board   rule that will speed up union elections.

That rule is scheduled to go into effect Monday. Business groups pleaded with Congress to overturn the rule and will now have to turn to the courts if they want to get their way. They contend employers won’t have enough time to make their case against union representation if elections are held in as little as 10 days after an organizing petition is filed.

Today, however, a resolution overturning the streamlined elections rule got only 45 votes in the Senate, short of the 60 votes needed to clear procedural hurdles. Republicans voted in favor of the resolution; Democrats voted against it.

What a coincidence!  Just after Democrats made their sales pitch to the unions to bail out their convention, Democrats in the Senate united to give them a gift rule that will force businesses to hold snap unionization elections, rather than give businesses time to make their case.  I’m sure one has nothing to do with the other … right?

Oh, and this is probably a coincidence, too:

Though the president has also proposed some streamlining of existing programs, he wants to expand the job training budget by $2.8 billion. While upgrading our workforce could make sense, the administration may have a secondary purpose – payback for  Labor’s $400 million support of his 2008 campaign, and its expected boost to his reelection effort.

Here’s how: the government funds job training programs administered by organized labor. Through such efforts, unions can expand their outreach to the unemployed and disaffected. In the process, they sign up new workers. Meanwhile, Big Labor is offering workers “green” certification through these programs.  At the same time, the White House wants to funnel money into “green” industries. It is only a matter of time before such works demand “green” certification, guaranteeing union workers preferred status.

Sound farfetched? Perhaps, but I’m not alone in making the connection. Consider a study undertaken last year by the University of California at Berkeley’s Center on Employment in the Green Economy. It assesses the labor needs of the state’s mammoth sustainability drive. The authors encourage “high road economic development” – code for union labor – and embrace the dual strategies of “high-road agreements and certification strategies.”

Organized labor and environmentalists are joining in this effort. The Blue Green Alliance, a “strategic partnership” founded in 2006 between the Steelworkers and the Sierra Club, claims it has grown into a massive collaboration among our nation’s largest unions and green groups, uniting “more than eight and a half million people in pursuit of good jobs, a clean environment and a green economy.” They combine forces to push environmental spending and workers’ rights.

In one sense, Team Obama and the Democrats have a good case to make for insisting that Big Labor cover the convention costs.  They’ve already bought the Democratic Party; why not pay the bill?

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