1. News & Issues

Obama, Congressional Democrats May Lose Labor Support in 2012

By May 24, 2011

Follow me on:

Without doubt, labor leader Richard Trumka is the most effective, and most courageous, advocate for working people in American public life today. He, alone among political voices, seems to genuinely empathize with and care about the devastating personal impact on hardworking Americans of:
"... a new and dangerous phase of a concerted effort to change the very nature of America--to turn this into an 'I've got mine' nation and replace the land of liberty and justice for all with the land of the rich, by the rich, for the rich...

"We have never been richer. The American economy has never produced as much wealth as it does today. But we feel poor because the wealth in our society has flowed to a handful among us, and they and the politicians who pander to the worst instincts of the wealthy would rather break promises to our parents and grandparents and deny our children a future than pay their fair share of taxes."

In his bold policy remarks on May 20, 2011, Mr. Trumka expressed the labor movement's frustration with Democrats' lack of progress on issues vital to the quality of life for working Americans:

"Let me be specific. Unemployment stands at 9%. Underemployment is at 16%. Housing prices are falling, and foreclosures remain at historic highs. Economic growth is hovering at around 2% annually--not enough to put a dent in unemployment...

"Yet instead of having a national conversation about putting America back to work to build our future, the debate here in Washington is about how fast we can destroy the fabric of our country, about breaking the promises we made to our parents and grandparents."

Richard Trumka spelled out three steps that working people will be taking in 2012 to "protect their rights."

To the utter shock and chagrin of both the White House and Congressional Democrats, one of Trumka's three planned steps is that...

"... we are looking hard at how we work in the nation's political arena. We have listened hard, and what workers want is an independent labor movement that builds the power of working people--in the workplace and in political life...

"Our role is not to build the power of a political party or a candidate. It is to improve the lives of working families and strengthen our country."

Translated, in 2012, Democrats cannot count on the automatic support of labor unions; Democrats must earn it. Democrats can no longer take labor unions for granted... and that includes President Barack Obama!

Presidential candidate Obama depended heavily on lavish labor support in 2008 in key battleground states as Nevada. To win 2012 reelection, President Obama must once again win the majority of votes from labor unions, Latinos, and under-25 citizens.

I, for one, pray that President Obama heeds Mr. Trumka's stern, stirring admonishment:

"Will we be a country ruled by greed, by people who would cut or take pensions away from first responders, people who would take away the fundamental human rights of our workers, who would choose tax breaks for the richest among us over a future for all of us?

"Or will we be a country where we choose the future, where we look out for each other, where all of us have a voice?

"... The moral character of America is worth fighting for, and that is exactly what working people are going to do in the days and months to come."

Take a few minutes to be inspired by Richard Trumka's fighting words on behalf of the bleak plight of tens of millions of working Americans, all voters, at Labor Leader Trumka Declares Labor Unions "Politically Independent" in 2012.

Count me in to be part of Richard Trumka's push "to help return balance to our economy, fairness to our tax system, security to our families and moral and economic standing to our nation."

Join me in Making Our Voices Heard!

(Photos taken on May 20, 2011: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)


May 25, 2011 at 11:57 am
(1) RealTime53 says:

Hi Deborah –

“Translated, in 2012, Democrats cannot count on the automatic support of labor unions; Democrats must earn it.”

Well … unions might play hard to get. However, union voters are not going to stay home in November. Not after Wisconsin.

May 29, 2011 at 4:09 pm
(2) centerist cynic says:


I think Obama’s warning to unions will indeed be “Don’t have a replay of Wisconsin”.

In the immediate and long term it would be in the unions best interest not to be taken for granted by either the Democrats or Republicans. In the short term, given what the Republicans are offering for working people, this is not an option.

I would suggest unions would be better served to help educate the American public about the issues they care most about. The goal should be to find improvements for American workers that both parties can agree on. This is the only way to win lasting support and avoid being taken for granted.

February 29, 2012 at 12:55 pm
(3) BillboTex says:

Union leaders should not be allowed to steal member’s retirement funds to support politicians who line the Union leader’s pockets.

EVERYONE AND EVERY STATE should have the right to work without the corrupt union leadership’s hand in their pockets.

Leave a Comment

Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.