Washington Prowler

Reality Strikes

Big Labor is beginning to understand why it is floundering -- even as it gets set to repeat its expensive mistakes of 2004.

By 2.28.06

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Further highlighting the widening rift between various union factions, current AFSCME President Gerald McEntee told reporters that Republicans cleaned Democrats' clocks in general in the 2004 election cycle, and labor-financed campaign efforts specifically.

McEntee made the comments as he also discussed the AFL-CIO's political plans for the 2006 cycle. Not surprisingly, it involves throwing millions, no, tens of millions of dollars at candidates across the country. Right now, the budget is $40 million nationally, with a focus on those states that are in major political play with gubernatorial and Senate races in the balance.

McEntee's comments about Democratic and labor failures were seen as a slap at former AFL-CIO political leader Steve Rosenthal, whose 527 brainchild, America Coming Together, was the highest profile political tool labor set up last go round. Rosenthal staked his reputation on labor's Ohio operation in '04, and the expectation is that once again labor is going to focus on Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida, among others, in the coming year.

In speaking with labor politicos in San Diego for their winter meeting, it was clear they refuse to see the folly of once again lashing all of their political hopes to the listing ship that is the Democratic Party. Almost all of the $40 million will be spent on behalf of Democratic candidates, their party and their issues.

On some, level, though, you can't blame the AFL-CIO for doing what it's doing. What other choice does it have? It is hemorrhaging membership and cash, and watching support for union issues cratering around the country. There is a desperation to its activities that confirms what many union lobbyists have been saying throughout the Bush Administration's time in power: that a Republican-led Congress and White House is making life very difficult for organized labor, and by extension the Democratic Party.

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