With the American labor movement newly energized by its most serious threat in years, the Democratic Party's decision to hold its 2012 convention in the least union-friendly state is causing friction with a key constituency.Ironically enough, while Obama claims Wisconsin's efforts to reign in spending is an "assault" on workers, his own federal workforce doesn't have collective bargaining either, a fact the media ignores. If he really cared about "the workers," why didn't he and the Democrats address that while they had unchecked power for two years?
The Democratic National Committee selected Charlotte to show confidence in the party's ability to win crucial swing states in the South, including North Carolina, that President Barack Obama carried in 2008. But the choice isn't sitting well with some union leaders.
"I think the Democratic Party is in crisis and they're trying to figure out who are they really going to represent," said Angaza Laughinghouse, president of the North Carolina Public Service Workers Union.
Workers around the nation have rallied in solidarity with union brethren fighting Republican efforts to curtail collective bargaining rights for public employees in Wisconsin and Ohio. But the issue is a moot point in North Carolina, one of two states where all public workers are prohibited by law from engaging in collective bargaining.
In many other ways, Charlotte makes perfect sense as the site of the convention. A bustling city of more than 700,000 with a popular Democratic mayor, the Queen City is both a center of the American banking industry and a symbol of the New South.
But it's in a state where just 3.2 percent of workers belong to a union, the lowest percentage in the country.
Despite the rank hypocrisy, neither side is going anywhere. They're hopelessly co-dependent.
"The Democrats are following a strategy they've been pursuing for 20 years or more, in which they try to win over the swing voters while to some extent ignoring their base," she said.Imagine the whining if the GOP held their convention in North Carolina.
Part of the Democratic establishment, though, has moved to back the protests of public sector unions, most notably the group Organizing for America, Obama's political arm within the Democratic National Committee. Obama himself has called the Wisconsin proposal "an assault on unions."