A Failure on Both Sides
By WILLIAM YARDLEY
Published: June 28, 2006
NEW HAVEN, June 27 â€” Connecticut's largest labor union on Tuesday endorsed Senator Joseph I. Lieberman in the Democratic primary, although many union leaders, meeting at their state political convention, complained of his support for the war in Iraq and foreign trade agreements. Many sounded loud "nays" when the voice vote was called.
"He's endorsed," John W. Olsen, the chairman of the state A.F.L.-C.I.O., said after the vote, which followed comments by the several dozen speakers â€” some passionate, some conflicted â€” who formed lines at the two floor microphones.
Most of the speakers expressed support, noting the senator's efforts in his three terms to protect workers in industries ranging from clothing to submarine manufacturing. Many said, however, that his challenger, Ned Lamont, a businessman from Greenwich who owns a cable television company, is a fresh face who will better serve their interests and stand up to President Bush on issues like the war and trade.
After the vote, Mr. Olsen was asked whether the "nays," which were not far below the "yeas" in volume, suggested that labor leaders were split over the endorsement, and he noted that no one had challenged the vote after it was completed.
Mr. Olsen, who announced his personal support for the senator several weeks ago, said it was clear from a meeting earlier in the day with leaders of individual unions that the senator had the necessary two-thirds of the approximately 350 convention delegates. He said the senator had "a wide cushion."
The article notes that Lamon't company isn't staffed by union labor...and so I can see the problem here. Joe's got an OK record when it comes to voting on the issues labor cares about, getting an 84% postive rating from the federation. Of course, his votes hardly matter so long as the Republicans are in charge, and suppress every pro-labor policy they can, like preventing an increase in the minimum wage and passing pro-corporate legislation at every turn. Joe's fellation of the Preznit doesn't help.
Lamont is going to be hurt by this. I don't know how strenuously he reached out to Labor, but he should've tried harder. Lieberman's decent voting record notwithstanding, it's important for progressives to connect with Labor and working people in general, and stress the big picture analysis. It's one thing to vote the "right" way on Labor issues, it's another to enable the party most responsible for Labor's demise in this country. That's what Joe's been doing, and the Lamont people need to make that message clear to the members, who've been known to vote counter to the leadership in more than one important election.