While the GOP is ramping up its own convention efforts in Tampa, its Democratic counterpart in Charlotte is struggling.
Cash-strapped Democratic National Convention organizers are hitting up unions – traditional gold mines for Democrat causes – for some last-minute fundraising. But angry unions are cutting the convention off. Reliable donors like the AFL-CIO and Teamsters are slashing contributions to the bone, leaving Dems $25 million short of their $36 million collection goal. Why?
Like real estate, there are three things that matter with conventions – location, location, location. North Carolina is a right-to-work state, meaning unions can’t exclude non-union workers from employment. As a result, big labor views the state as hostile to their cause – and a poor place for a convention. Some labor bosses even complained about the local businesses around the convention:
“[T]here was a general disappointment in the selection because of the non-union hotels, the non-union accommodations in North Carolina,” said Chuck Rocha, former political director of United Steelworkers union.
Many unions also feel more than a little resentment to President Obama, who abandoned them during the Wisconsin recall battle over unions’ rights. The President tweeted “good luck” to union candidate Tom Barrett, who was then crushed by current Gov. Scott Walker. Unions might respond with tweets of their own, but that’s about it. From Politico:
Unions are also refusing to put up the money to back get-out-the-vote efforts they’ve funded in the past.
[Some] unions are toning down their convention involvement with many opting to send a few staffers to engage with union delegates. And some, like the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, have said they are sitting out entirely.
Unions are dinosaurs. Less than 12% of workers are members of a union – a 70-year low – down from a record high of 35% in the 1950s. Cutting convention funds might be a way of sounding the alarm for Democrats.
Unions need a political influence just to stay relevant, and they don’t want to look like pushovers. Said one Democratic lobbyist: “One of the greatest frustrations with this administration is how they treat members and everyone else. It’s sort of this attitude that they’ll come because they are Democrats.”