Unions Find Members Slow to Rally Behind Democrats
By Steven Greenhouse
New York Times
September 17, 2010
The Democrats will depend on labor unions - the shock
troops of their political campaigns - to offset two new
developments this election cycle: Tea Party enthusiasm
and corporations' ability to spend unlimited amounts
thanks to a Supreme Court ruling.
Labor leaders, alarmed at a possible Republican
takeover of one or both houses of Congress, promise to
devote a record amount of money and manpower to helping
Democrats stave off disaster. But political analysts,
and union leaders themselves, say that their efforts
may not be enough because union members, like other
important parts of the Democratic base, are not feeling
particularly enthusiastic about the party - a reality
that, in turn, further dampens the Democrats' chances
of holding onto their Congressional majorities.
"The problem for us is to really re-excite the rank and
file to the greatest degree possible," said Gerald W.
McEntee, president of the American Federation of State,
County and Municipal Employees and chairman of the
A.F.L.-C.I.O.'s political committee. "They've been
disappointed that the House and Senate haven't done
more, especially to create jobs."
It is a measure of the dread among Democrats and their
labor allies that several unions are no longer
threatening to withhold endorsements from some
conservative or moderate Democrats, like Representative
Zack Space of Ohio, because they had bucked labor on
health care legislation or other issues. Now, unions
are generally backing those Democrats, feeling labor
cannot afford such a strategy when the Democrats'
prospects seem so troubled.
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