Embattled, Embittered, Big Labor Ponders Next Move

By March 1, 2010Labor Unions

This week’s meeting of the AFL-CIO’s executive council in Orlando elicits journalistic reports on how Big, Used-to-be-Bigger Labor will respond to its political failures.

Associated Press, “Organized labor’s agenda hits roadblock; what now?”

Prospects for a health overhaul have faded. Even slimmer are the chances of achieving labor’s chief goal, passage of a bill making it easier for unions to organize workers. A bipartisan jobs bill passed this week by the Senate drew tepid praise from the AFL-CIO president, Richard Trumka, who called it a “Band-Aid on an amputated limb” – far short of what unions wanted.

This wasn’t what unions expected a year ago after spending more than $400 million to help elect Obama and increase the size of Democratic majorities in the Senate and House.

Bloomberg, “Unions Regroup After Stunned by Losses Under Obama, Democrats“:

March 1 (Bloomberg) — William George, president of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, blames the card-check bill. Alan Hughes, AFL-CIO chief in Arkansas, blames Wal-Mart. Charlie Flemming, a union leader in Atlanta, blames Democratic politicians.

As they meet in Orlando, Florida, this week to plan their 2010 political campaign, union leaders are reeling from a succession of defeats they never expected after helping President Barack Obama and the Democrats win elections in 2008.

What now? Well, the strategy hasn’t really changed despite the setbacks: Rely on government spending and legislation to rescue them. Last week, AFL-CIO activists rallied in Orlando:

Contending that government investment swiftly saves jobs and stimulates the economy, union leaders rallied on the steps of Orlando City Hall to urge support for a new federal jobs bill, one that would push money more quickly to state and local government workers.

Paul Wilson, president of the Central Florida AFL-CIO union, and organizers with the AFSCME public service workers union urged Congress to invest in jobs in public service, especially since Florida’s state government is facing as much as a $3 billion budget shortfall.

Vice President Joe Biden speaks to the AFL-CIO leadership this afternoon at Disney World. We’ll be looking for the promises of a government rescue for labor, comments on the nomination of Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board, a renewed vow of support for the Employee Free Choice Act, and any reference to “black shirts.”


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