Some labor unions put their resources into issue campaigns, such as the California Nurses' push for single-payer health care. But why should any candidate care, as long as the union is not supporting or opposing any candidates, and with the efforts of unions who do support candidates proving so impotent.
Here's an AP story on the situation:
Obama Win Shakes Up Labor
By Jesse J. Holland
The Associated Press
Saturday 05 January 2008
International Association of Fire Fighters President Howard Schaitberger called the support for Obama "breathtaking," after seeing his union's candidate, Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., falter in Iowa and drop out of the race. Despite the money and the manpower organized labor shifted to Iowa for Clinton, Edwards and Dodd - one union ran television ads for Clinton while another shifted workers in-state to stump for Edwards - Obama still won convincingly.
"The tsunami was far greater than we could attempt to hold off," Schaitberger said.
Schaitberger said he talked personally with both Obama and Clinton on Friday. But the firefighters would not immediately endorse, he said. "Sometime after March, we will begin to reevaluate the remaining candidates," Schaitberger said.
Union support is supposed to be key to winning the Democratic presidential primary, with their money and foot soldiers playing key roles in the early voting states. For example, the political arm of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which has endorsed Clinton, spent at least $250,000 to air television ads in Iowa urging her victory.
While the Service Employees International Union has not made a national endorsement - "We will make an endorsement when there is a presumptive nominee, but it is too early for that," SEIU spokeswoman Stephanie Mueller said Friday - its local chapters have split their endorsements between Clinton, Obama and Edwards.
The Iowa and New Hampshire SEIU locals are supporting Edwards, spending more than $2 million trying to get people in those two states to support the former North Carolina senator. Those resources are now being shifted solely to New Hampshire.
Fifteen percent of New Hampshire Democrats identify themselves as members of union households.
Following New Hampshire, the next major union state on the calendar is Nevada, where the 60,000-member Culinary Workers Union, Local 226, is the biggest political powerhouse.