AFL-CIO Executive Council statement
Las Vegas
March 07, 2007
1. The AFL-CIO will encourage every affiliate to a) educate its members  on the critical issues that will be debated in the presidential campaign and b) provide  ample opportunity for members to hear and learn about all the candidates and for the  candidates to hear directly from union members about their concerns and priorities.

2. The AFL-CIO will ask every affiliate to take no action to endorse any candidate until the General Board of the Federation can make a decision whether or not to endorse a candidate prior to the primaries, and, if so, which candidate to support.

3. The AFL-CIO will organize a series of grassroots Working Family Issue Forums during the spring and early summer of 2007.  These gatherings will be designed to a) allow members to discuss among themselves the issues that are important to them in this election, b) learn more about these issues and the views of the labor movement on them  and c) provide feedback and input into the labor movement’s decision process.

4. The AFL-CIO will host a series of Discussions with the Candidates across the country, in which each major candidate can discuss with union members the major issues and the concerns of America’s workers.

5. The AFL-CIO will host a series of meetings with union presidents and all major candidates of both parties who wish to participate.  The AFL-CIO also will host a series of meetings with the political staff of the major candidates and the political staff of the Federation and union affiliates.

6. The AFL-CIO will provide issue reports for use by unions, comparing the positions of the major candidates on the key issues of concern to the unions of the Federation.  The Federation also will provide other materials and resources, including interactive online resources, enabling union members to learn about the candidates and provide their own feedback for the endorsement process.

7. The AFL-CIO will host a Candidates’ Forum in Chicago in August to hear from all the major candidates.  Candidates will be invited to the forum depending on a) their support of labor movement goals and b) their ability to run and win a presidential race.

8. The AFL-CIO Executive Committee will meet in late spring to evaluate this endorsement process and make any adjustments, and the AFL-CIO Executive Council will review this process at its summer meeting in Chicago. The General Board will convene, upon the call of the president of the Federation and the Executive Committee, at an appropriate time, most likely in the fall of 2007, to discuss the campaign and to decide if any candidate deserves consideration for support by the national AFL-CIO prior to the 2008 primaries and caucuses.  An endorsement by the General Board will require a two-thirds per capita membership vote.


AFL-CIO Details Plans to Put Members in Driver's Seat of Presidential Endorsement
March 07, 2007

(Las Vegas) -- The AFL-CIO announced plans today for an intensive six-month program to involve union members and their families in selecting the next President and laid out a timeline for the federation’s endorsement process. AFL-CIO leaders said that through a series of candidate forums, worker-to-worker discussions, surveys and online idea exchanges, working people would have more opportunities than ever to engage the candidates for president around their issues.

 “We are asking each of our unions to reach deep into their membership and provide opportunities for working people to evaluate all the candidates -- and for the candidates to hear directly from them about working families’ concerns,” AFL-CIO President John Sweeney told reporters at a morning press briefing in Las Vegas, where the AFL-CIO Executive Council is meeting this week. “This will be a very bottom-up process,” he said. Sweeney said a number of unions are already holding forums with candidates and surveying their members.

The Executive Council of the AFL-CIO will vote today on a policy that asks each of its 54 national unions not to make an endorsement until the AFL-CIO General Board decides, following the six-month period of member consultation, whether or not to endorse a candidate prior to the primaries.

“We’re not going to act as individual unions,” said AFSCME President and AFL-CIO Political Committee Chair Gerald McEntee. “What we’re going to do is involve our members in the decision-making at every step of the endorsement process. Our members are more than just voters – they’re messengers. They’re activists. They’re the roots in grassroots. So they’re the drivers in this process.”

“We’re going to look at every candidate’s record, their position on the issues, the viability of their campaign and their success in motivating and inspiring our members throughout this process,” McEntee said.

The AFL-CIO policy sets out an ambitious plan to give working families a greater voice in the presidential campaign. It includes a series of discussions with candidates beginning in early spring in communities across the country and online to give working people a better opportunity to assess and evaluate the candidates on issues such as jobs, health care reform, trade policy, retirement security and the freedom to join unions and bargain for a better life.

In Nevada, union members are already playing a vital role in that important early voting state, said Nevada AFL-CIO Executive Secretary-Treasurer Danny Thompson. "We plan to raise the level of the national debate on working family issues by mobilizing and educating union members and their families for the Nevada caucus, and making sure they're ready and able to fully participate," said Thompson. The Nevada State AFL-CIO will not endorse a candidate, leaving the endorsements up to the individual member unions.

Coming off a grassroots mobilization in 2006 in which 13.6 million union voters were mobilized in 32 states in support of working family friendly candidates, the labor federation said it is poised to make an even greater impact in 2008.

“This level of activity by union members early in the process will lay the groundwork for the greatest involvement by working people ever in electing the President of the United States,” Sweeney said.

Contact: Steve Smith