“We’re here now. We’ve got to make the best of it,” Congresswoman Maxine Waters, California Democrat, told me on Tuesday when I asked her about whether or not she believed Charlotte, North Carolina was an appropriate choice for the Democratic Convention considering the venue in a right-to work state.
Since Charlotte was chosen to be the place where President Barack Obama would accept the Democratic Party’s nomination for his re-election, labor union leaders remain irritated over the decision. The word “bittersweet” was used by union members who lamented on Monday that they were spending Labor Day in a right-to-work state. In fact, those that decided to come to the DNC Convention are upset that they must stay in non-union hotels . According to the Chicago Tribune:
The Democratic governor has antagonized government worker unions over contracts, pensions and facility closings, while Emanuel faces the potential of a teachers strike in the nation’s third-largest school district in less than a week.
Adding insult to organized labor’s injury: North Carolina, the site of the convention that will renominate Illinois’ home-state President Barack Obama, is a “right-to-work” state hostile to union organizing, and the delegation is using a nonunion hotel as its headquarters.
Why did the Democrats ultimately choose Charlotte, if it has the lowest union membership (at 2.9 percent) in the nation and their biggest supporters, labor, would be angered? Until 2008, the Democratic Party had not won North Carolina since 1976. Then candidate Obama won the southeastern state by a slim margin and Democrats, with the help of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, are hoping to keep labor enthused about the Obama campaign regardless of the convention location. The Atlantic reported:
But labor can’t abandon the Democrats entirely. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is holding an event in Charlotte on Tuesday, and the SEIU, another major group, will also attend. As labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “American unionists are flocking to Charlotte.
Center for American Progress Chairman John Podesta and former Clinton White House Chief of staff told me that as for the DNC’s choice of venue, “We’re just going to put out a great convention and we’ll see.”