Labor unions join to back candidates

Sept. 6, 2010 at 12:29 PM
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DETROIT, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- U.S. unions are increasing fundraising and campaign spending for what they say are the most important elections for the labor movement in decades.

Facing steep declines in membership, unions are joining forces to decide how to spend money, deploy staff and determine which races to target as they try to maintain their influence in Washington where union-friendly Democrats control Congress and the White House, The Detroit News reported Monday.

At stake is whether candidates elected to Congress will continue to support labor-backed policies on unemployment and other problems, union leaders say.

"The most important thing in this election is how to get the economy back on track," United Auto Workers President Bob King said in an interview.

"We're trying to say that at least President Obama and the Democrats have been trying to do something," King said. "Republicans have abused the filibuster and made irresponsible and immoral decisions to not do anything."

Leaders of the national AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union have formed a coalition to target races in 26 states and coordinate spending and staff to support pro-union candidates, most of them Democrats.

Five years ago, the two unions angrily split over differences on organizing.

The coalition "shows how much unions have put aside differences to work for the greater good," says Harley Shaiken, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who follows the labor movement.

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