A few inches of snow postponed Friday morning’s meeting of the Philadelphia Building Trades Council, but the powerful and savvy labor consortium will convene again soon and appears certain to emerge with an endorsement of Barack Obama.
“We’re going to meet in the next week or two and I expect we’ll consolidate our support around one guy,” said John J. Dougherty, head of the electricians local and a candidate for state senate in Philadelphia.
Along with recent endorsements from the Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union, growing support for Obama among the building trades -- key operators in the upcoming Ohio and Pennsylvania primaries -- has begun to create a labor coalition that offsets Hillary Clinton’s strength among public-employees unions.
On Friday, Obama campaign announced that it had received the support of Leon Lynch, a Pittsburgh-area superdelegate and former vice president of the United Steelworkers of America, which had previously supported John Edwards.
In many cases, labor’s leadership is trying to catch up with a membership that is marching into the Obama camp, particularly among the male-dominated building trades. In Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary, exit polls showed Obama running even with Clinton among union households, a major incursion into a constituency that boosted Clinton in earlier contests. Obama maintained his lead among men.
“It was becoming a generational thing,” said Dougherty, who said he began to hear from his members of his local about three months ago about their presidential preference. “Some of my older members were talking about Hillary and McCain, but all the younger guys were talking about Barack Obama.”
In Wisconsin, the statewide Sheetmetal Workers local chose not to officially back a candidate, despite the fact that its international endorsed Clinton last fall and several members of the local’s executive board supported her. The decision to remain neutral came after internal polling conducted by the union showed its rank-and-file leaning towards Obama.
“Judging from polling we’ve taken, our interests are leaning towards Obama,” Mike Simon, a member of the union’s executive board, said before that state’s primary.
In Philadelphia, a decision by the building trades council to endorse Obama, would go up against elements of the local Democratic establishment for whom labor’s get-out-the-vote operation has often been put to work -- including Governor Ed Rendell, Clinton’s most prominent backer in Pennsylvania.
“Very infrequently have I been on the opposite side of the governor,” said Dougherty, whose 27-year old daughter Erin was planning to run as a Clinton delegate but decided shortly before the ballot deadline not to submit her name.
This blogger might want to review your comment before posting it.