Atlas shrugging?

An early report shows organized labor might be withdrawing its financial support for candidates for federal office:

Union donations to federal candidates for the first three months of 2011 are far lower than donations during the same period in 2009 and in 2007, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Unions’ political action committees have contributed $4.75 million to federal candidates this year through the end of March, according to the Center’s research. In 2009, union PACs donated $8.44 million — and in 2007, union PACs donated $6.77 million — through the same period.

It is still not clear why donations are down 40 percent, although a fraction of this percentage may be due to PACs who have not yet filed any paperwork with the Federal Election Commission. The biggest PACs file monthly campaign finance reports with the FEC, but PACs that file semi-annually in 2011 won’t submit their first reports to the FEC until next week.

Even if Union PAC money were eventually proven to be higher than the sum revealed by the Open Secrets report, the decrease now evident may be the first sign of organized labor withdrawing its financial support for the Democratic Party. This change should not be too surprising given the structural features of the current economy, which promote high-unemployment and low-wages, and the role the Democratic Party has played in the creation of this situation. Why, after all, would labor support a party like the Democratic Party, a party that has adopted anti-labor policies for a while?

It should not support the Democratic Party unless, of course, it supports candidates that promise to support a labor agenda and do eventually deliver on their promises.

I cross-posted this article at Fire Dog Lake

Labor has friends in the Democratic Party

While discussing an Andrew Cuomo presidential bid and Cuomo’s “unexpected” support for New York’s Gay Marriage Law, David Weigel recalled:

…a conversation [he] had last week with a Democratic statewide elected from the Midwest. He asked me what I thought of Cuomo as a candidate in 2016; I said Cuomo would face real problems from labor unions, compared to some other Democratic hopefuls, given the deals he’s been cutting in New York — salary freezes, carve-outs for some unions and not others, etc. This Democrat told me that he liked Cuomo for exactly that reason, and that the Democratic party, going from here, couldn’t rely on unions and promise them everything they wanted.

This was a little jarring to hear. Around the same time, Joe Biden was telling Teamsters to stick with Democrats because when Republicans won in the states, they were tearing up all the contracts and gains unions had made. How many Democrats think that’s not tenable anymore? If there’s some way to fund the Democratic Party at current levels with union activism replaced by donations from grateful gay donors… no, I don’t think the math adds up. But there are certainly some Democrats thinking about this.

It does not surprise me that the elite of Democratic Party wants to break completely with labor. The labor movement in general and the unions more specifically actually have real economic demands they want met, demands which the New Democrats would not want to take up as party goals. The actions of the Obama administration have made it very clear that the Democratic Party today does not wish to annoy finance capital, to reduce the costs of empire, to reach a full-employment economy that realizes a living-wage for anyone who wants to work and to provide the social goods required to reduce the risks giving with living in the United States. The Democrat Party has not been the party of labor, and has not been such for decades. It refused this role long ago because it does not want to represent the interests of labor in general and the labor movement in particular within the various governments of the United States. It is not a or especially the party of the lower classes. The Obama administration takes the now conventional position that affirming the supply side of the economy provides the proper and realistic path to sustainable economic growth. Because it has this stance, the Democratic Party does engage in class war; it, along with the Republican Party wages class war on the “lesser people” in the United States.

Who, then, are the friends of labor in the Democratic Party? I’d expect to find them sweeping the floors, filing documents, moving furniture, etc. at Party headquarters.

This article was cross-posted at FireDogLake


David Sirota makes a similar point at, providing his argument with greater depth than I did in mine.