In a letter to the presidents of its member unions yesterday, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said the coalition will not be putting big money into the Democratic convention in Charlotte, North Carolina:
In recognition of the changes we have made in our political program, however, and our desire to engage in politics in a more effective and grassroots way, this year we will not be making major monetary contributions to the Convention or the Host Committee for events or activities around the convention. We won’t be buying skyboxes, hosting events other than the Labor Delegates meeting or bringing a big staff contingent to the convention. I will be attending the convention – mainly to lead the delegates’ meeting and to convey labor’s coordinated message where appropriate.
Elsewhere in the letter Trumka says the coalition is committed to President Obama’s reelection and supporting the Democratic Party. But Trumka’s decision not to make big donations underscores Big Labor’s anger over the party’s decision to hold their convention in North Carolina, a right-to-work state with weak unions.
Instead Trumka says the money will go to “our core political work and to investing in a long-term labor movement structure to build power for working men and women.” In other words they’ll spend the money without the Democratic National Committee’s input. It is unclear exactly how much money he is talking about.
“The changes he’s referring to are the same we’ve been talking about for more than a year now about political independence,” said AFL-CIO spokesman Josh Goldstein.
The letter also said that unions will be holding their own event on August 11 in Philadelphia in advance of the convention, dubbed the “Workers Stand for America” rally. An AP story dubbed the event a “shadow convention,” a characterization union officials have tried to shoot down.
“The basis of the story is flat out wrong. There’s an event going on in Philly on the 11th but it’s in no way how the AP described it,” Goldstein said.
They clearly want to send a message though. As Trumka put it in his letter:
Our members are eager for the opportunity to tell candidates, elected officials and America that we want action to promote growth and prosperity shared by all, not just those on the top rung of society. We especially need to send this message at the moment when both political parties prepare to hold their conventions in late August and early September. [Emphasis added]