Unions endorse Obama, gear up for fight vs. 1%

ORLANDO, Fla. – Just hours before the AFL-CIO’s executive council was scheduled to officially endorse President Obama’s re-election bid, Michael Podhorzer, the AFL-CIO’s political director told the press gathered here for the event that “the 2012 elections and all elections from here on out would not be recognized by Bill Clinton or even George Bush. They are an entirely different thing.”

Because of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, said Podhorzer, and the Republican idea that corporations are people, everything has changed.

He said the Super PACs are trying to cement in place the hegemony of not just the one percent over the 99 percent, “but really the rule of the one thousandth of one percent over everyone else.”

“35 people have given 40 percent of the money to try to control the outcome of these elections,” he declared.

Podhorzer said that by the end of today the AFL-CIO would be kicking off its 2012 election effort by issuing an official endorsement of President Obama’s bid for re-election.

He said that beyond just backing Obama, “the labor movement plans to use this election to teach people about some of the really bad features of capitalism.” He said that Romney’s connections to Bain Capital, for example, provided “an excellent opportunity to make people aware of the predatory nature of a system that makes profits from the destruction of jobs” for working people.

“People aren’t just mad, but really mad,” said Podhorzer. “They see a government more concerned with contraception and the deficit than jobs. This is an opportunity for the labor movement. It has taken Boehner and his crew to convince people it is time for a change. The down side this time is the unlimited spending by the rich.”

Labor has decided to focus a great deal of effort on the Senate elections too. “It is critical that we prevent the GOP from getting a majority there,” he said, “and we will focus strongly on the Democratic Senators up for re-election, many of who are the best friends of labor.”

The labor movement will also turn some of its attention to gubernatorial races. “Obviously, we will work hard on the recall of Walker in Wisconsin,” Podhorzer said, “but we are making major plans for gubernatorial races in 2014. All those Republican governors who got in two years ago promising jobs but instead delivering attacks on the labor movement can expect serious efforts by us and our allies to make them pay politically.

Podhorzer said that Republicans who are thinking about joining the attacks on unions should take labor’s plans seriously. He said labor successes against the Republican governors in Ohio and Wisconsin should allay any ideas that unions are not serious.

The federation will conduct its re-election efforts for the president, its efforts to weaken Republicans in the House,  and its efforts to preserve pro-labor seats in the Senate in states where it thinks those efforts can combine to do the most good.

At this point, Podhorzer said, the six states that will be focused on the most are Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nevada.

Photo: Obama, joined by others including Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, speaks in Washington.   Carolyn Kaster/AP


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is editor in chief at Peoplesworld.org. He started as labor editor of the People's World in May, 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and '80s he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.