CHICAGO – The City of Big Shoulders was an appropriate place for the mid-year AFL-CIO Executive Council meeting Aug. 5-6. Here organized labor, deliberately and with little fanfare, began the heavy lifting of coordinating and mobilizing the nation’s working families to stop the corporate onslaught against the American people’s standard of living and democratic rights in the 2004 elections.

Alongside the Council’s deliberations, a constellation of related meetings created their own light. Two hundred grass roots Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride organizers from Seattle to Miami converged for two days of logistical and political planning for that fall event. At the same time, union political directors were putting their heads together, refining strategy-making to a working-class science.

“We’re not going in with a shotgun approach,” one participant told the World. The plan is to use a sophisticated matrix to identify key union-member swing voters in targeted states,” he continued, “then we’re going to mail and door-knock to educate them.”

Rev. Jesse Jackson made the point to the Council that the 5,000 to 15,000 vote margin in so many congressional and Senate races in 2002 was small compared to the number of unregistered voters in those districts.

Those unregistered voters are not just union members, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Linda Chavez-Thompson told the World. “What’s different about this campaign’s mobilization will be our concentration on voter registration within our communities,” she said, adding that the alliances built during the campaign will continue after the election.

“Those we register are potential union members,” Chavez-Thompson said. “This is an ongoing project.”

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