Three weeks before the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, union leaders are investing a significant amount of time and money on a “shadow convention” for organized workers, which will be held August 11 in Philadelphia, and called the Workers Stand for America rally. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers will donate $1 million, and “picking up a lot of the tab,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The rally was announced after Democrats drew sharp criticism from organized labor groups for choosing to the party’s convention in a right-to-work state—North Carolina is, after all, one of the least unionized states in the country. Unions also resented the fact that the Bank of America Stadium, where President Obama will accept his party’s nomination, was built by non-union labor. More than a dozen unions announced plans to boycott the convention, while others, like the AFL-CIO, are merely scaling back their presence.
Which unions funding the rally or exactly how much they are donating is not known. What we do know is that a number of them will be present at the Philadelphia rally—and not at the convention in Charlotte, or, at least, in a reduced capacity there.
Unite Here gave $100,000 to Democratic Convention in Denver in 2008, but will not be donating this year, though they will be sending representatives to the Philadelphia rally. The Communications Workers of America will be reimbursing their members for attending the Democratic convention, but they’ll be withholding their usual $50,000 direct donation.
The AFL-CIO donated a relatively modest $100,000 to the Democratic National Convention in 2008 –and although they have not said precisely how much less they will spend this year, in a letter to members, Richard Trumka described dramatically reducing AFL-CIO’s presence (and financial support) to this convention so that unions could better focus on their “core political work” – like participating in the Workers Stand for America rally.
This move, Trumka says reflects “our desire to engage in politics in a more effective and grassroots way.”