The National Journal's Reid Wilson argues that labor has a waning influence on the Obama-led Democratic Party -- remember, it swung behind his rival Hillary Clinton in 2008 (in Pa and elsewhere) and the DNC chose a non-union state for its 2012 convention.
For the first time in more than a century, labor is playing a minor role, at best, in a Democratic-led Washington. Party strategists, including some close to the labor movement, say President Obama’s success in 2008 highlighted the deep plunge in union membership, and its influence within the Democratic Party.
One strategist pointed to Pennsylvania, a state in which labor once ruled the Democratic primary. In 2002, former state auditor and now-Sen. Robert Casey had support from every major union in his race for governor; former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell trounced Casey by 13 points in the primary. In 2004, the Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees threw their support behind Howard Dean’s presidential campaign, just before it imploded.
. . . The lesson Obama’s team learned, according to Democrats close to the campaign, was that labor’s organizing methods on behalf of Clinton and Edwards were less effective than the organization Obama put together.
Obama refused to make contributions to local labor organizations and other political outfits in places like South Carolina and Philadelphia, payments tolerated for years by Democratic campaigns but often derided as walking-around money. And, later in the campaign, Obama’s team utilized labor unions to a far lesser extent than previous Democratic nominees.