Labor will embark on an expansive organizing campaign in America's union-scarce South that, if successful, could bring about serious political upheaval.
The AFL-CIO, at its quadrennial convention this week, adopted a resolution to come up with a "Southern Strategy" that includes "a long-term commitment to organize the South."
Union officials told The Hill that the labor movement needs to follow the workforce, which is moving down south, as well as learn how to better operate with right-to-work laws in the region designed to weaken union power.
Linda Bridges, president of the Texas AFT, a teachers union, said only bringing more workers into labor will lead to changes in the South's laws that restrict labor's influence.
"Just because most of the workers are in right-to-work states, it's time that we have real strategies about how to organize, about how to bring them into the labor movement in great numbers. I think that's how we eventually change the laws in the South, through organizing," Bridges said.
Unions also see opportunity for political gain, which could benefit their traditional allies in the Democrat Party. Shifting demographics, including a growing Latino population, could shake up the electorate in the South.
"There's huge potential in the South," said Michael Podhorzer, the AFL-CIO's political director, noting the rise of Hispanic voters in the region. "It's Florida, North Carolina. That is changing the equation in all of those states."
Democrats are eyeing Texas and will be working with unions to expand into the state. Snatching the deep red state from the Republicans would be a coup for Democrats, but union officials laid out time-lines of several years -- not 2014, the next election year -- before one could expect to see blue victories.
"This is really the beginning of a long-term strategy of building union power in the South," Podhorzer said, noting the AFL-CIO would invest political resources in the race against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as well as in Florida and Texas this campaign season.
Podhorzer and Bridges both said they have been working with Democrats on their plans for Texas.
"Most of the talks are really about finding the right candidates, finding the right message, positioning ourselves and giving people also the understanding that is possible if we identify with the right issues with people," Bridges said.
A big part of the political effort in Texas will be bringing labor's much-vaunted voter turnout machine to the state. That will be tough considering the state's voter ID law, which has led to a Justice Department lawsuit...
Texas has seen union gains already. In 2011, 5.2 percent of the state's workforce belonged to unions. That jumped to 5.7 percent last year.
READ FULL SOURCE ARTICLE: 09/11/2013
Editor's Note: You cannot say that you have not been warned...
The BasicsProject.org informational and educational pamphlet series is now available for Kindle and iPad. Click here to find out more...
The New Media Journal and BasicsProject.org are not funded by outside sources. We exist exclusively on tax deductible donations from our readers and contributors.
Please make a tax deductible donation today.