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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Labor Unions to Have 128,000 Campaign Volunteers

The A.F.L.-C.I.O.'s president, Richard Trumka, said on Thursday that the nation's labor unions would have 128,000 volunteers working on the “final four days” of the 2012 campaign, saying these volunteers would knock on 5.5 million doors and make 5.2 million phone calls.

In a conference call with reporters, Mr. Trumka, who leads a federation of 56 labor unions, said many union members were eager to volunteer to help re-elect President Obama because, he said, Mitt Romney has “the most anti-union, anti-worker platform we've seen for any candidate in our history.”

Mr. Trumka said union members would also distribute two million leaflets at unionized work sites between now and Election Day, noting that that would be on top of 12 million fliers mailed to union members' homes.

Mr. Trumka said the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and its unions would also provide more than 2,000 poll monitors who would work closely with lawyers around the country. “If we see people being d enied the vote, people that hassle them, we will have a rapid response team,” he said.

He predicted that Mr. Obama would win Ohio by three to four percentage points, and said that labor's get-out-the-vote push would help push Mr. Obama over the top there. He said organized labor already has a strong infrastructure in Ohio as a result of its effort last November to repeal a Republican-backed state law that curbed collective bargaining for government employees. After a huge union effort, Ohio residents voted to repeal that law 62 percent to 38 percent.

Mr. Romney's spokesmen have repeatedly said that Mr. Obama has consistently sided with unions over middle-class workers by supporting government policies that, they say, have killed jobs.

Recently, the Romney campaign has run ads in Ohio asserting that Jeep, a recipient of federal bailout money, will soon outsource American jobs to China. Chrysler, Jeep's parent company, is considering opening a facility in China where it would produce Jeeps for sale locally. But Jeep officials say they are expanding their American work force, not cutting it.

Michael Podhorzer, the A.F.L.-C.I.O.'s political director, maintained that these misleading ads were backfiring and would hurt Mr. Romney in Ohio and neighboring states.

Mr. Trumka also voiced confidence that labor would win a ballot initiative in Michigan, known as Proposal 2, that would enshrine collective bargaining rights in that state's Constitution. Political experts estimate that business, which strongly opposes the proposal, and labor will spend more than $30 million in the ballot fight.

“Proposal 2 is very important because it will prevent future attacks on collective bargaining,” Mr. Trumka said. “If it's successful, we will continue to make efforts like that” in other states to prevent future attacks on collective bargaining, like those in Wisconsin.

Business leaders in Michigan as well as Gov. Ro b Snyder have attacked Proposal 2, saying it would hurt the state's business climate and would be an improper effort to circumvent the legislature and governor.

Mr. Trumka also predicted that labor would defeat a ballot proposal in California, known as Proposition 32, that would bar labor unions from using any union money in political campaign. Mr. Trumka said his side was three points ahead, according to recent polls. He added that if Proposition 32 was approved, unions would likely challenge it as unconstitutional, most likely on the ground that it violates their free speech rights.

In the conference call Mr. Trumka named several Democratic senatorial candidates that labor unions were campaigning for, including Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Amy Knoblauch of Minnesota, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Chris Murphy of Connecticut.