Labor Unions and Politics

On March 10 there was this story in the LA Times I meant to write about:

Labor unions rethinking their role in politics
As top union leaders gather in Florida on Tuesday to determine labor’s political strategy this year, the influential AFL-CIO appears poised to endorse President Obama’s reelection — despite some lingering dissatisfaction with his record.

But the way in which unions back him and other Democrats this year is likely to take a very different form than in past campaigns.

Concluding they need to be more independent of the Democratic Party, many unions are increasingly financing their own efforts instead of writing large checks to candidates and the party.

via Los Angeles Times.

I was simply thinking how labor unions don’t really help working people and how laughable it is that “they need to be more independent of the Democratic Party.”  They are dying and it is the Democratic Party who’s keep the life support machines plugged-in.

Then, three days later, March 13:

Leaders of the influential AFL-CIO  labor federation announced Tuesday it voted “proudly and enthusiastically” to endorse President Obama’s reelection effort.  …

The vote, among the AFL-CIO’s 57 member executive council, was unanimous.

Labor leaders had in the past been vocal about dissatisfaction with the Obama White House on a host of issues, from Obama’s compromise in extending the George W. Bush tax cuts to perceived shortcomings in the administration’s stimulus and healthcare reform packages.

But AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said he had been heartened the administration’s renewed push on jobs and combating inequality, a pivot that occurred around Labor Day last year.

via Los Angeles Times.

How embarrassing it must be to have to endorse and carry water for a guy who really hasn’t helped you one bit.  On a unanimous vote the union agrees that the AFL-CIO and the Democratic party are in a symbiotic relationship; each would die without the other.

These stories actually appear out of order.  The endorsement story should be first — describe how Obama has not done everything the unions have wanted and yet they have no where else to turn.  Then, as a result of their lack of options politically, the union(s) will seek other ways to engage in outreach and influence besides giving directly to candidates.  Well of course they will… they have no other choice.