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St. Paul thinks it and New York will be the final two cities in the running to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention due to Denver's union issues:
When Minnesota DFLers went to Boston for the Democratic National Convention in the summer of 2004, they stayed at the Radisson Cambridge, a union hotel. "The labor movement has been a close partner with the Democratic Party since the New Deal and we should do everything we can to honor that," said John Stiles, a St. Paul DFLer who made the trip.The Twin Cities unions are also optimistic:
As it seeks to land the 2008 Democratic convention, the city of Denver is learning that history the hard way: Officials there now acknowledge the city's bid will fail unless Denver gets a union hotel, which might leave the Twin Cities and New York as the best bets to win the prize. "We feel like we're one step closer to securing a bid. When you narrow the field, our chances just went from 33 percent to 50 percent," Erin Dady, St. Paul's marketing director, said Tuesday. Andrew O'Leary, executive director of the Minnesota DFL Party, said: "Obviously, Minneapolis and St. Paul are great union towns."
Of the three finalists, Denver had been considered a frontrunner by many observers, largely because of Colorado's growing political importance in national politics. But Denver officials are now going public with criticisms that many national Democrats have murmured about since the bidding process began.
The issue became contentious earlier this year when the Denver Area Labor Federation distributed a resolution fighting the city's bid unless it got a union hotel. The dispute revolves around a lobbying effort to organize the new Hyatt Regency Denver.
O'Leary said Minnesota DFLers have been promoting the Twin Cities as a great place for a national convention because of its people, atmosphere, geography and status as a political swing state. In addition, he said the region's media market hits five states, including two other swing states: Wisconsin and Iowa.
He said the state DFL makes it a practice to do its business with unions: "It's not just union hotels. We try to use union resources in everything we do."
The head of the Twin Cities hospitality workers union says she thinks labor issues raised by union leaders in Denver can’t be resolved in time to win a bid for the 2008 Democratic National Convention. “I think they’re not going to go there,” says Jaye Rykunyk, state director for UNITE HERE, the union that represents local hotel staff, waiters and other hospitality workers.Remember, all these opinions are from Minnesota, and are therefore all biased. It's also interesting that Leslie Moody, president of the Denver Area Labor Federation, has been relatively quiet on the subject since she was last quoted in May. In May, she said:
Anyway, Rykunyk says she’s been following developments in Colorado, albeit from a distance. Other than some Sky Chef workers at the airport, she said, her organization doesn’t have any real presence in Denver -- the problem that the Denver Area Labor Federation is reportedly making a stand on.
(Leslie Moody, the federation president, has not responded to any recent inquiries about a May letter regarding the union issue there. There was, however, reportedly a meeting that touched on the issue on Tuesday.)
But the union grapevine, Rykunyk told the Scoop today, has it that there have even been threats to picket the Democratic National Convention if it shows up uninvited by organized labor in Denver. And that would make for some extremely bad television, not to mention the, um, interesting debate regarding whether or not Democrats would cross a picket line on their way to endorse a presidential candidate.
“The people who say, ‘We’ve got two years to straighten this out,’ are dreaming,” Rykunyk told the Scoop this afternoon. “These events are planned years in advance. There’s so much setup, you have to jockey all this stuff around and you have 10 days or two weeks that are basically just taken off the books… You can’t risk that kind of business on a maybe.”
Rykunyk said that unions in the Twin Cities, including workers at 20 hotels, are ready and willing to play ball. “They are guaranteed there won’t be any labor problems,” she said of the Democrats. “And all the work they need can be done by union workers. We’ve got stage hands, carpenters, painters, electricians, you name it.
"This is not, 'Don't even bother, throw Denver out the window. We want to see this convention encourage the city to take the wages and benefits of our lowest-paid workers more seriously."She did issue a statement last week, saying:
"It is our hope that Denver will have more than one union hotel by the summer of 2008 when the convention is due to be held."Given the hint above that there was a meeting on the subject earlier this week, I don't think we should assume that this issue can't be worked out to everone's satisfaction.