When John Kerry made his midnight ride through Lawrence, the crowd was very white, very upper-middle class, very academic (very Lawrence). The exception was a bunch of guys in red t‑shirts, in the picture at the right. The guys in the Laborers shirts, with the signs, and the sense of how to manage the crowd. When a bunch of Bushies tried to get their signs on camera, a bunch of Laborers were in front of them holding their Kerry signs in front. They had the network, and were passing information around.
In short, they knew what the hell they were doing.
As predicted, we now see that Four Unions to Boycott A.F.L.-C.I.O. Convention:
Four major unions set off a major rift in organized labor today when they announced that they were boycotting the A.F.L.-C.I.O.‘s convention here, a move that is widely seen as a first step to their quitting the labor federation.
I’m inclined to think this is good, at least short term. As DHinMI points out, the labor movement is the backbone of the Democratic field operation. Unfortunately, as union membership declines, the power of labor to shift elections declines as well. As union power declines, the ability of pro-labor politicians to help workers is hurt. The solution is to increase union membership.
That’s what the dissident groups are doing. The Laborers are part of the Change to Win coalition, along with the groups previously discussed and the United Farm Workers. Not all the unions will leave the AFL-CIO, but they will all be pushing for a union movement that will, through agressive organizing, enhance teh image and importance of unions.
That may not pay off in 2008, but it will pay off long term. And I doubt that Change to WIn will abandon the campaign in 2008, or even the 2006 elections. They’ll just focus more heavily on workers and new organizing. When and where real labor problems exist, they’ll focus attention on bad laws and poor conditions.
Groups like ACT, MoveOn, and the Media Fund will take up some of the slack. Democrats who can’t be elected without union members working the ground operation will just have to suck it up.