lunes, 3 de septiembre de 2012

Los sindicatos, molestos porque la convención es en una ciudad de trabajadores libres, tendrán una presencia pasiva en Charlotte

(Foto: Obama saluda a su inventor, Leo Gerard, presidente de United Steelworkers, en una foto de archivo.)

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

There will be something lacking in the Labor Day parade here today: namely, labor.

Unions -- traditionally a force at Democratic National Conventions -- are largely skipping the quadrennial festivities here this week. That means they aren't here to participate in today's Labor Day Parade, either.

Many of Charlotte's local unions are still marching, but their ranks won't be fleshed out by brethren from across the country, who typically converge on Democratic convention cities to volunteer, rally and host policy briefings.

Labor leaders are angry that the party chose to have its convention in a right-to-work state and in a city they say has too few unionized workers.

"Unions are all about solidarity," said Phil Smith, spokesman for United Mine Workers of America.

"There are plenty of other places this convention could have been held where union members would have been involved from start to finish in the preparation, the planning, the work, the set-up, the operation, the tear down and every aspect of dealing with this convention."

The AFL-CIO is bowing out, too. "We won't be buying skyboxes, hosting events other than the labor delegates meeting or bringing a big staff to the convention," union president Richard Trumka, a Pittsburgh native, wrote last month in a letter to his union's local leaders.

Don't confuse the message of the boycott. Unions still support President Obama and Democratic policy.

"Does that mean unions will abandon Obama in November? Don't bet on it," said Phillip Wilson, president of the Labor Relations Institute, a human resources consulting firm in Oklahoma. "Unions will be around, especially in state and local elections, where they feel they have more control over the politicians they help elect."

Some union members, though, are disenchanted with Mr. Obama for blocking the Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL pipeline, which would have brought thousands of new construction jobs. Labor groups also are also disappointed in him for not pressing hard enough for the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for workers to unionize. Some, such as United Mine Workers of America members, oppose new environmental regulations that they say harm the coal mining industry.

The UMW, which strongly backed Mr. Obama in 2008, hasn't decided whether to endorse him for re-election.

It also is among the unions skipping out on Charlotte this year, a marked change from 2004 and 2008, when it sponsored receptions and briefed state delegations on labor issues in Boston and Denver.

(...) This Labor Day, the union's issue is right-to-work, and leaders are incensed that the Democratic National Committee is holding its biggest event here.

After the convention, though, labor is likely to return to supporting the party and its candidates. Their alternative is to step away and give an advantage to Mitt Romney, whose policy statement says unions too often "drive up costs and introduce rigidities that harm competitiveness and frustrate innovation."

That isn't likely to happen.

Once labor has made its point about the convention location, unions will be out in force for Mr. Obama, Mr. Medvic said.

"Ultimately it's the policy concerns that are paramount, and I think there won't be conflict there," he said.