Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Willhite: This could be a deal breaker for Denver

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at http://www.DemocraticConventionWatch.com

This does not sound good for Denver's bid:

Denver's bid to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention hit a serious snag Monday after a union leader refused to sign a no-strike pledge, with a decision due anytime.

City and union officials confirmed Monday that Jim Taylor, head of the local stagehands union, is refusing to sign a mandatory agreement with national Democrats pledging not to strike if the convention comes to Denver.

Debbie Willhite, executive director of the host committee, said not having full union support is "probably a deal breaker" for the DNC.

But Denver's director of theaters and arenas, Jack Finlaw, said he was "optimistic" that Taylor and the stagehands would sign on. "There is still time," Finlaw said.

The decision could come as soon as today, but Democrats said they would finalize their 2008 convention by the end of the year.

Taylor, president of the Local No. 7 International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, balked at signing because labor views the Pepsi Center as anti- union, said labor leader Leslie Moody. "I think that has been the case all along," said Moody, president of the Denver Area Labor Federation. "There are several unions that really aren't interested in signing on."

Union issues were a concern early on for the city when the Denver Area Labor Federation passed a resolution opposing the bid. But in August, the group shelved that resolution.

Taylor is upset that the convention would be held in a venue that is not unionized, Moody said.

Denver's host committee believed it had locked up union support when the resolution was dropped. "They made a decision that they would have all the unions sign," Willhite said. But Moody said that was not the case, and she questioned the city's commitment to labor.

"These folks have been calling me once a day at best," she said. "We are not the No. 1 concern. ... If we were the priority, they would have had somebody camped out at my door."

But Moody said union issues are not the only problem with Denver's bid. She pointed to financial and logistical issues, suggesting the metro area did not have enough hotel rooms.

"If somebody is saying labor is holding this up, then why were we brought in in the eleventh hour?" said Moody, who said she didn't get the agreement until a week ago.

The agreement not to strike is standard practice when a city bids for the party convention. In large part, it is a pledge not to participate in a work stoppage while the Democrats are in town.

At the Pepsi Center - the facility Democrats would use - stagehands are not unionized. So a stagehands strike would probably not affect the convention.

But Taylor's refusal to sign the nonstrike agreement would cripple Denver's bid for the convention. "It's probably a deal breaker to our getting the convention," Willhite said.

This just got nasty. Moody points to financial and logistical issues, so if Denver doesn't get the bid, the labor folks won't be blamed? This all sounds like the reason Dean has delayed announcing a decision.


Anonymous said...

I will be so upset if "Jim Taylor, head of the local stagehands union" derails this for ALL Democrats.

This convention is about more than him, or his small, local union. Denver will give the eventual Democratic nominee the best chance at winning the White House. Environmentalists, people who care about the US Constitution, people who want to fix the Iraq fiasco, and the middle class all should have a say about where the convention is held...

Guess what....they have had a say. Check out the Kos DNC poll. Basically, anyone who is not from New York wants DENVER!

If labor is given a veto over where the convention is held, it would be absurd, and it will hurt the party. Unions will rue the day if a Republican wins because the Democratic nominee was painted as "liberal elite," or because the Demorcats refused to go after electoral votes in the Mountain West directly. Holding the convention in NYC will make that scenario more likely.

Denver Republican said...

What's the big deal? Organized labor has held the Democratic Party hostage for decades. 'Tis ironic that the same Democrats who support teachers, police, and government employees going on strike can't bear the thought of a few stagehands threatening to do the same. Screw school kids, public safety, and the public's business - they just want to make sure their precious convention isn't disrupted.

Anonymous said...

I'm getting sick of the press and others publicizing this union stuff - it has to be the most overblown issue in this bid. If Dean and everybody takes a look at stuff that really matters - like that Kos poll that had Denver clobbering New York by oh, 78%, and the fact that big name Dems and hundreds of little Dems have been pleading for Denver for over a month - than the right decision would be made.

New York represents the old Democrats, who still want to suck at everything politics. Denver represents the new, Howard-Deaned; "kicking ass", super-party Democrats who don't back down when it comes time to bat for our party. It's clear that the people of the west and other scorned regions want to know that the DNC cares - that the 2008 nominee cares - enough to come out and show the folks what they mean. Nowhere in politics today is there more of an opportunity to succeed than Denver hosting the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Denver's got the kind of stuff that we, as a party and as a nation, need to make it happen. I totally agree with the comments above, that, indeed, we've got to give our '08 nominee the most leverage to succeed and win the nation. And, it takes a Mile High City to make it happen. The Democrats need Denver.

ClaireWalter said...

Just when people have sympathy for union workers because their leadships' shortsighted demands and greedy Big Business policies shipped many union jobs overseas, the 2008 convention might be derailed from Denver because the stagehands can't agree to a no-strike "zone" for a couple of weeks two summers from now. They are shooting themselves in their collective foot, and like a Dick Cheney hunting buddy, the rest of Denver and Colorado and the whole region could be collateral damage.

Anonymous said...

Democrats put off convention decision


Anonymous said...

Here's the ironic thing about Denver's DNC chances being held back due to Labor issues:

* Labor would have the ability to strengthen its position in the West with a Denver DNC. Labor has less to gain in New York, as does the DNC.

I can't help but assume this is political maneuvering to boost Labor's Denver presence and for the DNC to get a greater financial committment,...BECAUSE if Denver loses, not only will that send a message that the Dems are the same old party (**see below), one that has had a hard time winning (excluding the "fed up with the GOP" votes), but it will take away Labor's opportunity to grow its position in the West. So, I have to assume, that is what they are trying to do with this latest stand. Let's just hope it does not hurt Labor in the West and the Dems chances in 2008!

If the Dems lose in 2008, we need to take a serious look at the Democratic platform and rebalance our priorities. We can't afford 8 more years of going down the tubes. Labor and everyone else are losing (corporate profits at an all-time high; health care a mess; schools suck...American is less competitive in a very global marketplace; and, Labor jobs are being cut all over). We can't keep blaming Nader and voting machines folks.

(**In an era when even Newt and Bush are singing songs of change. Take notice everyone, this is how they could win again in 2008: we need change and we have the plan for you; the Dems either don't have a plan or its wrong. This would minimize or take away the Dems arguement. They keep doing it over and over, and win.)

Anonymous said...

I'm going for Denver.