Thursday | August 14, 2003
Clarification on labor unions and Gephardt
The following was sent to me by a long-time union observer with impeccable credentials. It's not someone in the union leadership, but someone who understands some of the political machinations of the nation's top unions and can make educated guesses:
Let me just make one observation about Gephardt’s shot at an AFL-CIO endorsement: it’s no better than 50-50, and, as Andy Stern, president of SEIU, has remarked many times, if Gephardt doesn’t get the nod, no one will (except the ultimate Democratic nominee, of course). So don’t look for movement to another candidate as a possibility, as you suggested in your “cattle call” today.
Posted August 14, 2003 03:55 PM
Gephardt has an enormous amount of genuine good will earned over of years of support for labor, principally from manufacturing unions and Teamsters. Endorsement of Gephardt at August meeting was never likely—too many savvy union political players do not like his chances, despite their recognition of his great solidarity with labor. It was a victory for Teamsters president Hoffa to give Gephardt one more chance to demonstrate support by calling a special meeting in October to reconsider. But SEIU, AFSCME, and the AFT have, between them, almost enough votes to block Gephardt from getting the 2/3rd s majority he needs for a Federation endorsement.
Stern’s remarks on NPR last weekend that, “It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world” if Gephardt did not get an early nod from the Federation are a guaranteed indication that he is not looking to provide it. He and AFSCME president McEntee can pretty much block it and are likely to do so, unless Gephardt gets an enormous boost in polling #’s and fundraising before 10/15—made less likely by California essentially freezing race with Dean as front runner until recall is over.
Where Dean could help himself is to actually win the endorsement of one of the large, remaining uncommitted unions—AFSCME (unlikely, apparently leans Kerry), SEIU, UFCW (note Dean’s reference to UFCW during the AFL-CIO debate in Chicago—it’s the 4th largest union in the country) UAW, (interestingly uncommitted, despite Steelworker and Machinist endorsements of Gephardt), CWA, (looks like AFT opposed him on the war). If Dean breaks thru with any major union endorsement a few weeks before the Federation meets to make its decision, Gephardt will be denied.