What Does Labor Want in 2010?

Posted on January 3, 2010 by

The question isn’t whether Congressional Democrats and Obama Administration officials take the Labor Movement for granted.

Of course they do.

A Republican White House, Labor Department and Congressional majorities are a nightmare for unions.

That alone motivates labor leaders, reps, operatives and activists to remain loyal.

Democrats need labor’s political muscle for the 2010 midterm elections. With resources and sophisticated campaign operations in many states, cities and local precincts, unions can make the difference in close races.

As the Democrats most pragmatic partners, unions will no doubt gear up for the next election cycle. And, as always, many activists will be afflicted by an uncomfortable sense of unrequited love, particularly appalled by Senate Democrats failure to deliver:

  • The Employee Free Choice Act, which makes union organizing somewhat easier, isn’t even close to the 60-vote filibuster-proof majority needed for passage.
  • A health care bill which frustrates reformers and could penalize some union plans.
  • The nomination of a skilled and experienced union lawyer, Craig Becker, to fill a vacancy on the National Labor Relations Board “on hold” by Sen. John McCain (R – Arizona).
  • The appointment of Erroll Southers, a former FBI agent and “chief of intelligence and counter terrorism” at LAX to run the Federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) stalled because of the antics of Sen. Jim DeMint (R – South Carolina) who opposes the unionization of airport screeners.

On the other hand, national unions are delighted with the appointment of a very pro-union Labor Secretary, former Southern California Congress member Hilda Solis, who has staffed the top levels of DOL with Assistant Secretaries, Commissioners and Directors whose mission is to protect workers and not – like the Bush crowd – serve the interests of corporate employers and promote an anti-union agenda.

But the Labor Movement wants more from Obama, Pelosi and Reid than a “seat at the table.” We’ll find out soon if unions have the leverage to get it.

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