Continued from page 1

Unions may seek gains in other areas, too, including the potential to loosen labor department regulations, receive pension assistance and secure another increase in the minimum wage.

But perhaps the most powerful incentive for members to get out to town-hall events has been the desire to see political success for Mr. Obama, a candidate for whom they campaigned vigorously to elect last fall.

Their mobilization behind the health care plan has been most visible at the president’s town-hall events.

While the administration has billed as organic the response to the president’s appearances in New Hampshire, Montana and Colorado, union members interviewed at the events described an extensive effort to recruit large numbers of the president’s supporters to fill the audiences, and to line up opposite protesters attracting attention outside.

In New Hampshire, the air traffic controllers union handed out tickets to its members. The Massachusetts Nurses Association had members cheering the president outside the event with a banner unfurled.

SEIU’s Mark McCullough said his union had nothing to do with passing out tickets to Mr. Obama’s town-hall events. But he said the organization pushed hard “to have members at the event itself and around to show their support for health care reform.”

In Grand Junction, three of Mr. Carillo’s union colleagues had seats on stage behind the president, while hundreds more rallied outside the high school, shuttled to the event on two large buses that the UFCW had hired. Also on stage were leaders from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). In the audience were members of the Colorado Education Association, which represents the state’s schoolteachers.

That was how Jim Smyth, 48, obtained his ticket to the event, even though he said he has been too busy monitoring the start of the school year to pay close attention to the raging health care debate.

“Our biggest concern is to make sure we don’t lose any of the benefits we have now, if there is a change,” Mr. Smyth said.

Troy Goodson, 55, and Larry Beard, 57, are electricians in Grand Junction who came to the Obama event to show the support of the IBEW Local 969. Both said they know how much is at stake in the health care debate.

Mr. Goodson said he has triplets at home, and that the delivery costs alone would have left him underwater financially had he lacked adequate insurance. He said he’s glad to see labor unions out in force, pushing for the president’s plan.

“The big corporations and the insurance industry, they’re lobbying 24/7,” Mr. Goodson said. “Someone has to fight against that.”