Friday, March 09, 2007

AFL-CIO Threatens To Ask To Pull Convention

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

While I followed the specific labor issues concerning the 2008 Democratic Convention, Colorado is having other labor issues, and today it spilled back on the convention:

Stung by Gov. Bill Ritter's veto of a bill that would make it easier for unions to organize, the AFL-CIO threatened to recommend the Democratic Party move its 2008 convention from Denver.

In an unsigned letter Thursday, the AFL-CIO's executive council said it planned to seek reintroduction of a bill that would make it easier to set up all-union workplaces and seek a commitment from Ritter that he would sign it.

"Union members and working people will make up more than a quarter of the delegates to the Denver convention," a statement from the union said. "Unless we can be assured that the governor will support our values and priorities, we will strongly urge the Democratic Party to relocate the convention."
Denver's bid for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, nearly collapsed because the leader of the stagehands union balked at signing a pledge not to strike if the convention were held at the nonunion Pepsi Center. A compromise was negotiated to staff the Pepsi Center entirely with union labor for the duration of the convention.
For more on the specific labor issues involved, has good coverage. I understand labor has concerns, but the reality is that no other city could take the convention at this point, so the DNC is not moving the convention anywhere. The Denver Post agrees:
The union could have a hard time getting the convention moved, however. Denver was chosen after the Democrats ruled out other cities, and New York City, which also made the short list, said it was unable to raise the money needed for the event.
Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, said Democrats aren't going to be eager to move the convention. It would make the party look too beholden to labor. But he said labor has enough influence to force the issue.
Governor Ritter responds:
Gov. Bill Ritter is confident that the Democratic National Convention will be held in Denver in 2008 despite threats from labor leaders to get the convention moved unless Ritter backs a pro-union bill in the Colorado legislature.

"I don't have any reason to believe it's going to move,'' Ritter said today of the national convention slated for Denver in August of 2008.
This is what can happen when the convention goes to a "purple" city. From CQ:
The wrangling between Ritter and labor is the kind of headache the Democratic National Committee had been hoping to avoid. Party officials have interacted with city, state and labor officials in an effort to deter a dispute that might threaten to take the shine off their Aug. 25-28, 2008 convention — such as the one between Boston officials and the police union during the run-up to the 2004 Democratic convention in that city.

The contract the Democrats signed with Denver officials includes labor negotiations, and DNC press secretary Stacie Paxton stressed that the convention’s main venue, the Pepsi Center, “will be staffed by union labor during the convention.
By the time next summer comes around, it will be clear Denver was the right choice for the convention. But there will be some pain along the way.