As I have discussed earlier, Richard Trumka, the rabble-rousing president of the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in America, is prone to saying some pretty nutty things. Though the man views freedom as a fleeting, almost-disposable concept, the one thing he’s gotten right lately is his willingness to flee from the tracks when he sees a trainwreck coming.
In a move that seems almost like a break-up that includes the words, “…but we can still be friends”, the AFL-CIO has been distancing itself from the Democratic Party while still maintaining a cordial appearance in public. But despite the cordial appearance, the reality seems to suggest that the once-unbreakable link between the Democratic Party and union organizers may be weakening as the AFL-CIO will not only be absent from the increasingly underwhelming Democratic convention, but will be hosting its own convention- without President Obama.
The Democratic convention has been plagued by financing problems from nearly the start. The Democratic Party has run up a fundraising deficit of about $27 million, according to Bloomberg News. To make matters worse, the Democrats are holding their conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, a state that lacks unionized hotels for candidates and delegates, ruffling feathers on the leftist front.
One reason for the fundraising deficit is the lack of union money flooding into Democratic coffers. Historically, the left has come to expect the trickling in of checks from unions. However, Trumka claimed that the AFL-CIO, “[Does] not intend to put any money into the convention.”
At the Democratic convention in Denver in 2008, unions chipped in $8 million.
While still officially having the support of the unions, the Democrats are not receiving the cash infusions they have come to rely on in the past. As they seem to be spending money they don’t have, the Democrats’ strategy for the convention seems to mirror their strategy for the nation.
Instead of bolstering the Democratic Party, the AFL-CIO, recognizing a sinking ship when they see one, has opted to throw their own convention a month earlier in August. Trumka stated,
We will be having a bigger on the ground effort than we have ever had in the past. This time around, unlike in past elections, we’ll be able to talk to non-union workers. So not only will we be educating, mobilizing, and getting out the vote of unions … we’ll also be talking to non-union workers.
Trumka further claimed,
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.”
This distancing of the AFL-CIO from the Democratic Party has been escalating over the last few months. Trumka had initially painted the shift in resource allocation as a move to try various avenues of campaigning. However, with the withholding of funds for the leftist shindig and the apparent parting of ways in terms of goals for each organization, it’s looking more and more like the AFL-CIO is losing faith in the Democrats’ ability to provide the political protection the unions have been buying for decades.
Especially considering the blow the unions were dealt in Wisconsin last month, the AFL-CIO might be looking to set out on its own to gain traction and pursue its own agenda without being tethered to a broke Democratic Party that has some major funding issues, to put it kindly. Either way, we are seeing a Party with a dearth of money, and a federation of unions with a dearth of power.