Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Labor union not endorsing in Democratic primaries

None of the Democratic presidential primary contenders will get the endorsement they have been fervently seeking from the Service Employees International Union, an especially painful blow to John Edwards.

This is actually quite surprising. Edwards has been courting the SEIU for several years and is clearly the most pro-union candidate running. This is probably the death nail for the emerging populist movement. It was expected that if Edwards won Iowa (which was pretty likely) that the SEIU, which is the largest Union in the country, would help him through NH and Nevada. Labor has been in steady decline for 30 years.
"Any one of these candidates would help create a new American dream for workers and their families," SEIU Secretary Treasurer Anna Burger said.

This is just not leadership. I can't see how this decision leverages Labor's remaining strength. Of course the SEIU will endorse any Democratic candidate in the general election because there's nowhere else to go. Sure, Edwards candidacy was not inevitable with Labor behind him, but at a minimum, any of the other Democratic candidates (read HRC) would understand that they could not take the Labor block for granted. The next president will "owe" nothing to Labor. NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) is largely considered to be the largest contributer to the erosion of manufacturing jobs and Labor in recent history. NAFTA passed a Democratic House and Senate, and was signed into law by a Democratic president. Does the SEIU really believe that all of the candidates will be equally responsive to the needs of Labor?

The SEIU (and the AFL-CIO who are also not endorsing) may not have had the strongest hand, but they just folded and walked away from the table without ever playing a single hand.

On a side note, I wonder if the dynamic would have been different had there been clear support for one candidate by the leadership within the "Democratic Netroots."