Unions on Fence About Bailing out Democratic Convention

Thursday, 12 Jul 2012 08:27 PM


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AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka said the labor group will work to elect Democrats, though it has still not decided if it will contribute cash for the party’s convention in right-to-work North Carolina.

“We have not as of yet,” Trumka, president of the nation’s largest federation of unions, said Thursday at a press conference in Washington.

The AFL-CIO endorsed President Barack Obama’s re-election in March and will have members at the convention as delegates. The federation is not, however, planning to host big events such as the reception it hosted at Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies, at the Democratic convention in Denver in 2008.

This year’s convention is expected to culminate in Obama’s re-nomination in Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte on Sept. 6. Last month, two people familiar with the matter who requested anonymity told Bloomberg News the host committee was grappling with a fundraising deficit of about $27 million.

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

Some unions, including the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Department, said last year that they would not participate in the Charlotte convention because the party chose to hold its convention in a state that lacks unionized hotels for candidates and delegates.

As a right-to-work state, North Carolina bars agreements that make union membership and payment of dues a job requirement.

“I will not be there,” Edwin Hill, the president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, said at the press conference. “We do not intend to put any money into the convention.”

Trumka said the unions would use their resources to mobilize and educate voters across the United States, with Obama’s reelection a top priority.

The AFL-CIO is planning a one-day rally in Philadelphia in August, a month before the convention, to highlight the need for higher wages and improved educational opportunities. The rally was suggested by labor leaders after some complained about the North Carolina convention site.

© Copyright 2014 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

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