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Unions focus on grassroots organizing, not helping the Democratic National Convention make ends meet

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By Laura Clawson for Daily Kos Labor

The Democratic National Convention may be falling short of fundraising needs, but a number of unions are making it clear that they won't be helping fill the gap. For some unions, refusing to give in 2012, let alone at the levels they did in 2008, is in response to the DNC's location in anti-union North Carolina. For more, though, it represents a desire to shift resources away from Democratic Party support and into grassroots organizing, including promoting a "Second Bill of Rights" and a rally in Philadelphia on August 11.

Describing the AFL-CIO's decisions about the DNC, Richard Trumka wrote in a memo that:

"This year, we will not be making major monetary contributions to the convention or the host committee for events or activities around the convention. We won't be buying skyboxes, hosting events other than the labor-delegates meeting, or bringing a big staff contingent to the convention.

"An AFL-CIO official said that the decision was motivated solely by the organization's strategy of focusing on grassroots efforts this election cycle, and the outcome would have been the same regardless of where the convention was held."

Many building and construction trades unions announced nearly a year ago that they would be skipping the Charlotte DNC because of North Carolina's hostility to unions. Now, though, the focus is much less on why unions are not participating in the DNC, or to a lesser extent than in the past, and more on what they are organizing themselves. In most cases that includes a strong effort to reelect President Obama, but on union terms, not by writing checks for the Charlotte convention.

Wednesday, Trumka and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers President Edwin Hill launched what the IBEW describes as a "campaign to refocus America's national priorities on the needs of working men and women." The campaign calls on politicians and voters to sign onto the Second Bill of Rights, which includes the rights to full employment and a living wage, full participation in the electoral process, a voice at work, a quality education, and a secure, healthy future. Top labor leaders met with Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Wednesday about the campaign, describing it as a positive meeting.

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