Sunday, April 15, 2007

DNC and labor making progress

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

Finally, some cooler heads may be prevailing in the disputes between labor and the organizers of the 2008 Democratic Convention:

Organizers of the Democratic National Convention made progress Thursday in resolving labor disputes that threatened to overshadow the event.

Labor officials were granted a seat on the Denver 2008 host committee that they had sought since last summer. The leader of one of the state's largest unions said it was time to "move on," and national AFL-CIO President John Sweeney flew into Denver to "tone down the rhetoric" that has surrounded the debate over labor issues in Colorado.
Several sources said the atmosphere at the meeting was cordial. Much of the discussion involved the contract local unions have been asked to sign promising not to picket or disrupt the convention. The Pepsi Center is normally a nonunion facility, but during the convention only union labor will be used.

The local stagehands union has objected to working in a non- union facility and had refused to sign the contract. National representatives from that union, as well as from the construction trades, the communication workers and Unite Here - which organizes hotel workers - all met with Dean and Hickenlooper.

At the meeting, labor was promised a seat on the Denver 2008 Host committee. The unions also asked for Hickenlooper's help in organizing downtown hotels. About one-third of the 6,000 delegates are expected to be union members, and they prefer to stay at a union hotel. However, the new convention center Hyatt Regency is currently the only hotel that's been organized.
"A lot of us want to move on," said Mitch Ackerman, Colorado president of the Service Employees International Union

More from AFL-CIO president John Sweeney:
Sweeney met with union reps who had attended the Dean meeting.

"I think the discussion was a good discussion," Sweeney said as he left the Hyatt Regency - the one city hotel where workers have formed a union and are negotiating for a contract. "But there's a lot of work that needs to be done."

And from Mitch Ackerman, president of the Colorado Council of the Service Employees International Union:
"There is consternation about the fact that a nonunion venue was chosen, and there is some consternation that this is a town where workers really struggle to form unions."
As I've said, regardless of threats, the convention is staying in Denver, so it make sense for all sides to figure out ways to work out their differences.