Big Labor Ambivalent, but Rallies With Obama


Despite all of President Obama’s paybacks during the last four years, including the Obamacare bill, and the UAW bailout, to name 2, some Big Labor officials are refraining to participate, endorse and otherwise support the incumbent president.   The last straw seemed to be a convention held in a Right to Work state with the nation’s lowest unionization rate, but. . .

Fear, though, is a potent political motivator, and an apt description of what many unionists say they feel at the thought of Republican rule.

Movement leaders genuinely like Obama, labor officials said, but don’t feel he has ever rallied to their cause. Despite no discernible labor-policy victory during President Obama’s term—although labor was crucial in passing the 2010 health care law—unions will battle fiercely for his reelection, officials say, even if their chief inspiration is to avoid the alternative: Mitt Romney.

Indiana in February became the first Rust Belt state to adopt a right-to-work law. And labor leaders recognize that the prevailing spending-cut winds directly target public-sector members and threaten public contracts with less funding with which to hire private-sector members.

If, during what labor leaders call an unprecedented antiunion climate, it seems odd to host a convention in the nation’s least-unionized state, labor has taken note. It’s the latest in a long march of reasons to feel underappreciated by a party that unions have staunchly supported. Activists remain disappointed in Obama’s lackluster effort to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, which would ease unionization. Even the health care law evokes feelings of betrayal; labor leaders resent that Democrats retreated in the debate over taxing “Cadillac” health plans.

Ultimately, unions still plan to send hundreds of thousands of campaign workers into the field and foot hefty costs to elect Democrats. But the spiral of disaffection big labor feels with the Democratic Party is unlikely to dissipate in Charlotte.

Jim O’Sullivan reporting in the National Journal.