Friday, September 01, 2006

Denver labor leaders won't oppose bid - updated

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

In a sign that there may be a path to a compromise, Denver union leaders will not oppose Denver's bid to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention:

Labor issues in the city have focused on hotels, and particularly the new, city-bonded Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center. None of Denver’s hotels are union, and some Democratic delegations say they must stay in union hotels.
Still, officials with Denver’s host committee now can say that labor is not formally opposing the bid as they make their case to national Democrats. Denver Area Labor Federation president Leslie Moody confirmed Thursday that the group voted unanimously to “lay over” a previous resolution opposing the bid.

While that is better than before, it may not be the kind of support delegations are looking for. What is more, Moody said, the resolution could be reinstated at any monthly meeting. “People were uncomfortable rescinding it completely,” Moody said, citing concerns about how the actual convention would be staffed. But she said, “There is a big difference between opposition and neutrality.”

Sounds like it was a lively meeting.

Host committee officials said last week that landing the 2008 convention would be unlikely unless the city had at least one hotel with organized labor. The labor federation passed a resolution this year opposing Denver’s bid unless the convention center Hyatt was organized.

Moody said workers at the Hyatt are working toward a union but they have been slowed because of high turnover. Still, she praised Denver host committee executive director Debbie Willhite and Mayor John Hickenlooper for working with labor groups.

A meeting with Willhite on Tuesday was positive and productive, Moody said. “We are doing out part to resolve whatever issues were keeping labor from supporting this,” Moody said.

Willhite said labor’s vote is “a step in the right direction.” “I think it’s very encouraging,” she said.

I think the key thing is that Hickenlooper and Willhite are meeting with the labor groups to dicuss their concerns, rather than criticize them through the media, which has happened in the past. But the issue of whether the convention can be held in a city with no union hotels remains to be seen. Some have brought up Atlanta in 1988 as an example of a city with no union hotels, but NY Times accounts at the time indicate there were a few union hotels, and so I don't think the comparison is valid.

Update: More comments from Wilhite:
"We’re in a period of working together to clarify different parts of the bid that some members had questions about," she said. "We’re working carefully together to see if we can reach some cooperation so that they can support our bid."

Willhite said there are sections of the bid that "needed clarification and some amending," though she declined to go into specifics. "You don’t negotiate in public," she said. "This isn’t a Texas hold’em."

Denver, which hosted its only national political convention in 1908, is the only city vying for the party convention without a union hotel. "Is it possible for us to get the convention without labor support? It’s possible," Willhite said. "Everything’s possible, but it would not be ideal," she said. "It’s not the way we want to go forward in this process, and it certainly makes our proposal weaker without their support."


Anonymous said...

Now that this over-blown union issue is finally cooling down to reality (it's not an issue), will you critics PLEASE take a look at the facts:

1. Denver is in the heart of the DNC's "most wanted" electoral votes. The Dems take Colorado, they take the west with it.

2. Venue, venue, venue. The DNC has been playing it safe by going to "politically secure" cities for years - L.A. in 2000, Boston in 2004, etc. With a new, cooler chairman at the helm like Dean, and a new party philosophy that includes taking back America, why would we stick to the same old venue. Like Kennedy said in January, 1961; we need to respect our history while forging anew. Therefor, it's time to head to the Mile High City.

3. Denver's got to be one of America's best cities for living, visiting, and exploring. With one of the world's only downtown amusement parks, a state-of-the-art aquarium, some of America's finest arty galleries, theaters, museums and structures, this city is rockin'! St. Paul and NY or great, they have their good points, but you can not compare them to a city like Denver - Mile High will always win.

4. Further, Colorado's rapidly expanding political value not only to the federal level but the our party itself is what we need to kick off a new era.

In August 2008, I want to be in the Pepsi Center, listening to the smooth melody of John Denver's legendary Colorado ballad "Rocky Mountain High" and awaiting the nomination of our next President. Go Denver!

Anonymous said...

Point #1: The numbers are hardly in our favor in the west. Be it may that I'm a pessimist, but the Mountain west's numbers from the past two elections are hardly "close" to being taken.

Point #2: I agree that politicaly secure cities are a waste of a good convention.

Point #3 seems a bit arbitrary. When it comes to touristic selling points, hands down NY wins, its a poor arguement. Case in point, Minneapolis-St.Paul is famous for the Guthrie theatre, the Mall of America, Minneapolis Institute of Art, "numerous museums and structures". That is all preference remarks. NY has an obscene amount of "cool stuff". I'm quite sure all three cities are quite comparable (NY really does take this one, even if I don't like want NYC to hold the convention)

4. May be true. But I'd prefer securing a rapidly turning Upper Midwest which is losing support faster than Colorado is gaining support. Minnesota has been known for its progressive politics and dyed in the wool Democrats. In just one election, they've gone to severe battleground status, along with Wisconsin. Iowa's taken a more gradual Republican route, but still not a desireable site.

The Twin Cities has been an unassuming player in politics but it shouldn't be left alone for grandiose dreams of taking a weaking, but still defiant Republican stronghold. If the Upper Midwest goes Red next election, it'll be some time before the Mountain west can make up for it, if at all.

Anonymous said...

We've already got the midwest - we need the solid western states to win. Denver's the most loyal city in this bid, and the DNC knows it. We've got to get this convention landed in Denver, or we face undeniable political hurt from a number of much-needed angles.

We don't have the luxury of comfort zones like the great lakes/upper-midwest to steer us to victory. We need to take 2008, and we need to give the convention to the masters in Denver.

Also: Skiing in the Rockies, kayaking, hiking one of America's by far most beautiful states, catching a tour of the historic old west juncture that is cosmopolitan Denver, and cruising the brewpub capitol of the western hemisphere (Denver's famous LoDo) OR waiting for a cab in Manhatten, and trying to find a parking spot at the Mall of America? I pick Denver.

Anonymous said...

A few things:
The upper mIdwest/lakes region is no longer an electoral comfort zone for democrats.

Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona are the only states that would be in play in the west.

There is more behind the choice of the convention site than electoral votes. I would think more to do with image.

I think New York is a definite option in that it would block the republicans from using it as a tool (play up the war on terror). Also with what we've seen in Connecticut with the whole Lieberman mess, there could be a ressurgence of unabashed liberalism occuring and New York could be a way to say that they're not ashamed of that (Dean is important in all of this). That said, I think a New York Convention would be a mistake.

Denver really needs to come out swinging on this union issue. It would be petty not to choose Denver simply because we haven't any union hotels. Are we supposed to force workers into a union just so we can get the convention? That's a bit absurd. It's fine to say we are working on this with labor interests, and those who are examining Denver's bid are probably being understanding. But what happens when newsreaders and union members get snippets of news about Denver and this union "issue" and then make calls saying they'd prefer a convention elsewhere.

Sigh, feeling sabotaged by opportunists here.

Matt said...

Dan- I don't think there's any chance the GOP is going to New York, so there's no need for the Democrats to go to New York to stop them. More importantly, the decision should be based on what the Democrats think is best, not on preventing the GOP from going somewhere. We need to be on offense, not defense.

Anonymous said...

Well, we didn't think New York had a chance for the dem convention and suddenly it's looking to me like they might.

Defense is an issue with voters and New York a logical choice then for Democrats to assert themselves on the issue.

Frankly, I don't trust Dean to push for what's best, considering the whole Lieberman mess. Why'd they waste resources with a safe seat like that. Not to draw away from the convention talk, but that has implications for the convention, I feel. That's why I'm thinking New York could be in play. Dean is unpredictable, emotion based.