Between A Rock And A Hard Place, Labor Is Back In Democratic Campaign's Corner

So the unions of course picked the steady "drip drip drip" of Blue Dog and New Democrat policies that weaken unions and the right of working people, versus the chainsaw massacres of the Republican party. Understandable, but this is one of the reasons why unions have so little power - they're no longer willing to sacrifice anything in the short-term to build their long-term movement. Oh well! Business as usual:

Washington — Last May, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka stood a few blocks from the White House and issued a stern warning: Union members could not be counted on as the Democrats' foot soldiers anymore.

"If leaders aren't blocking the wrecking ball and advancing working families' interests, then working people will not support them," he said in a speech at the National Press Club.

Uh huh.

Flash forward to today: Labor appears squarely back in the Democrats' corner for the 2012 election — pushed there in large part by Republican attacks on collective bargaining rights for public employees.

Those and other anti-union measures are rallying organized labor to the side of its longtime Democratic allies, and not just in states such as Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan, where they are battling efforts aimed at curbing union organizing.

The country's biggest unions also have played a central role in helping a network of federal pro-Democratic "super PACs" get off the ground, pouring more than $4 million into those groups in 2011, even as many wealthy liberals kept their checkbooks closed.

And some major labor groups have even inserted themselves into the Republican presidential primaries with ads that take aim at White House hopeful Mitt Romney.

The decision by unions to act again as an early firewall for Democrats speaks to how stepped-up hostility by Republicans has curtailed labor's hope to be an independent political force.

Across the country, state GOP lawmakers — many of whom were swept into office by the tea-party-fueled wave that dominated the 2010 midterm election — are aggressively pushing right-to-work laws that would make it harder for unions to collect dues. And in the presidential campaign, Romney has taken a particularly antagonistic posture against what he calls "big labor."

"I think we'll be more engaged in 2012 than certainly in the last 20 years," said Mike Podhorzer, political director for the AFL-CIO, a federation of 57 unions. "Working people realize in a way they never have what a threat the current Republican platform is to their well-being."

Organized labor is now expected to match or slightly exceed the estimated $400 million that unions spent to help elect Barack Obama and congressional Democrats in 2008, according to Marick F. Masters, a business professor who studies the labor movement at Michigan's Wayne State University.


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