How Obama Hurts Clinton (and Helps Sanders) With Unions
In 2008, Steve Abbott fell for Barack Obama. “Hope and change—I believed that hook, line and sinker,” says Abbott, whose Iowa caucus web site was switched from a library to a gymnasium due to an inflow of Obama supporters. Seven years later, Abbott, who leads the Iowa state council of the Communications Staff of America, is warring in opposition to the president, attempting to stymie an Obama commerce deal he believes will devastate organized labor. This summer time, when Hillary Clinton wouldn’t take up that trigger, he determined to again Bernie Sanders. After Obama, he says, “The lack of a commitment is a red flag.”
“People feel betrayed by President Obama,” agrees Mark Cooper, the president of the South Central Iowa Federation of Labor. “I think that’s why Bernie’s getting the traction he has.”
For a swathe of native union activists and nationwide labor leaders, the Obama expertise casts a queasy shadow over the 2016 race. The president, whom organized labor went all out to elect and re-elect, has performed massive issues that unions needed—like overhauling healthcare and monetary regulation, helping reeling auto giants, and transferring to increase the attain of extra time. At the least as vital, union leaders imagine his veto pen has been a bulwark, stopping congressional Republicans from doing nationally what Scott Walker did in Wisconsin. However Obama’s proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership pact, which unions contend endangers jobs, wages, and laws, is simply the newest in a sequence of bitter disappointments for organized labor, from the labor legislation reform the president confirmed little curiosity in preventing for, to the union-sought Obamacare modifications he rebuffed, to security laws that had been scrapped or languished, to his stances on power, schooling reform, and Social Safety.
“I don’t think people want a third term of Obama, which is what the Hillary candidacy represents,” says Nationwide Nurses United govt director RoseAnn DeMoro, whose union is internet hosting a “Brunch With Bernie” Monday afternoon. Union leaders who embrace Clinton with out getting commitments on points like commerce, argues DeMoro, are repeating the identical errors made with Obama. “Why would she have to change anything,” she asks, “because she’s saying nothing, and they’re saying, ‘Go Hillary!’”
“The last seven or eight years has just hardened me up and told me you can’t play the game,” says Amalgamated Transit Union president Larry Hanley, who endorsed Clinton within the 2008 major. Like DeMoro, he believes unions have been too centered on having access to politicians and never sufficient on constructing a mass motion that may preserve them from straying. Interviewed in his workplace final month, he gestured on the wall: “There’s my picture with Obama at the Christmas party, but I didn’t get a f–king thing done. But nothing’s happened—the country’s still going to hell.”
“I think the lesson we got out of this administration in terms of Hillary Clinton is: Slow down,” says Greg Junemann, the president of the Worldwide Federation of Skilled & Technical Engineers, who compares endorsing a candidate earlier than they’ve made concrete commitments to tipping a cab driver earlier than they’ve given you a journey. “Look at the record on labor—don’t just listen to the speech.”
Different upset union leaders say they’ve studied the file, and it exhibits they had been proper to favor Hillary all alongside. “I am ready for a president who’s got some experience,” says Worldwide Affiliation of Machinists and Aerospace Staff president Tom Buffenbarger, who endorsed Clinton in 2008 and (whereas his union hasn’t but endorsed) is supporting her once more for 2016. Obama stated loads about how pro-union he’d be throughout the 2008 marketing campaign, argues Buffenbarger, after which “forgot all about helping workers organize.” So he doesn’t see a lot level in holding off on endorsements till candidates make the precise guarantees: “I don’t know that that worked out so well, those commitments.” Higher, he says, to get behind somebody with a pro-labor file, like Clinton.
American Federation of Lecturers president Randi Weingarten, whose nationwide union was the primary (and to this point solely) to endorse a 2016 candidate, additionally says Clinton’s earned her confidence. “She had very different positions in 2008 than President Obama did on issues like testing, on issues like merit pay, on issues like making sure that there was high quality public education for all students,” Weingarten informed Bloomberg final month when requested about how Clinton would stack up in opposition to the present president. “This is not about Barack Obama—this about who is going to make public education what it ought to be for all kids.”
Nationwide Affiliation of Letter Carriers president Fredric Rolando, who says it was “very difficult” to get members enthusiastic about Obama’s 2012 re-election whereas preventing his plans to chop postal service, says he’s “really pretty comfortable” with Clinton, in addition to with the rivals operating to her left. Electability, he argues, must be paramount. “If she’s not saying something that maybe I wish she were saying, I get it,” he informed Bloomberg. “I don’t get it, but I get it… I know she’s got our back.”
Among the union presidents opposing Obama’s commerce agenda take a sunnier view of his total file. “You aren’t going to agree on everything,” says American Federation of State, County & Municipal Workers president Lee Saunders, who chairs the AFL-CIO’s political committee. “For the most part, I think that they stood with working families.”
However the discontent is long-standing, and widespread. “What I really saw at the AFL-CIO was this incredible frustration on the part of many prominent national leaders of affiliate unions that after everything that organized labor had done for the Democrats…they could get a meeting—they couldn’t get anything policy-wise out of it, even when the Democrats controlled the Congress,” says Glenn Perusek, who directed the AFL-CIO’s Middle for Strategic Analysis from 2010 to 2013, and now consults for unions. That predicament goes past Obama or Clinton, who’s backed labor legislation reform, paid sick depart, and the next minimal wage, however declined union calls to oppose the TPP, endorse a $15 wage ground, or again reinstating Glass-Steagall monetary regulation. “When you accept the premises of the situation,” says Perusek, “that organized labor is a partner within the Democratic Party, a junior party that is, let’s face it, ever weaker—the prime concern has to be keeping a Democrat in the White House. It’s a backstop given that you’ve got a Republican Congress.”
That concern of unified Republican management helps clarify why even Clinton’s strongest labor critics are ready to get out the vote for her if – as stays overwhelmingly possible – she turns into the Democratic nominee. Few doubt that the AFL-CIO, a federation of 56 unions which requires two-thirds help to make an endorsement, will finally again Clinton, even when it holds off till the first is over. By then, labor officers count on she’ll have rounded up a slew of nationwide unions’ endorsements, whilst some withhold their help in hopes of dragging her of their course, and a handful endorse Sanders in hopes of fomenting a long-lasting left-wing motion.
Interviewed in Altoona after serving to reasonable an Iowa AFL-CIO presidential discussion board that Clinton declined to attend, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka informed Bloomberg it’s “not impossible” for the AFL-CIO to endorse a candidate who doesn’t oppose the commerce deal unions despise, however warned that such a candidate would have “a tough time energizing people” within the normal election. Trumka stated Obama has “done a lot of good,” and would’ve performed way more if not for congressional Republicans. However he stated he worries that, if the president will get his approach on the TPP, “his legacy will be that he helped send [away] more jobs, more factories, and lower American wages.”
On commerce, Trumka stated, “I believed what he said when he ran.” The AFL-CIO president, who took workplace in 2009, argued the federation is now taking a extra “issue-oriented” method to this election cycle, making clear early on that “raising wages” can be the usual on which each and every candidate was judged. And, with fun, he cited an previous noticed: “If you’re a rational human being and you don’t take life’s experience to learn from, to guide you into the future, then I go back to that definition of insanity where you do the same thing over and over and over again, and expect a different result.”