Obama Attempts to Shore Up Union Support

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Wednesday, August 04, 2010 at 9:54 am

On his birthday, no less, President Obama will address the AFL-CIO Executive Council during its meeting in Washington, D.C. today. The Democrats know that having the unions on board and excited will be crucial to driving good voter turn out for the party during midterms, but they also realize it’ll be a bit of a tall order:

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, ever mindful of the differences his union has had with the White House over issues like health care reform, told his organization’s leaders and political organizers Tuesday that though progress may be plodding, the labor lobby is slowly getting what they want from this White House. “We need to tell our union brothers and sisters: We know you’re angry. We know you’re frustrated. We know we haven’t achieved everything we worked for. But we’ve made progress and we have to keep it going.”

Some union officials are walking away from Trumpka’s call to stand by the president, though. Many union members disappointed by the “cadillac tax” on generous health benefits that found its way into Obama’s health care reform bill. And there has been virtually no movement in Congress on unions’ pet issue, the Employee Free Choice Act — the “card-check” legislation that would allow unions to organize after gathering signatures from a majority of a company’s employees, avoiding a secret-ballot election.

By assuring the AFL-CIO leadership that he’s still with them on the card check bill and reminding them of what the administration has accomplished on their behalf, Obama will attempt to keep a key interest group — needed to counteract the Chamber of Commerce‘s planned vast independent election expenditures — in his camp and geared up for November.

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