After President Obama’s decision to avoid the Wisconsin recall election, undercutting desperate union members who wanted to oust Governor Scott Walker, the AFL-CIO has announced that it will take money away from political candidates and instead put it into “infrastructure and advocacy,” according to AFL-CIO spokesman Josh Goldstein. “There will be less contributions to candidates.”
That means that President Obama will receive less direct funding from the AFL-CIO than usual, but it doesn’t mean the AFL-CIO will be silent – it just means they’ll message independentlyof the Obama campaign. “This is not a slight at the president,” Goldstein said. The goal is to create a massive system that would give “different kinds of support to different candidates.” Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO, had said back in 2009 that the labor movement would be building its own campaign machinery.
While the AFL-CIO will undoubtedly back Obama in 2012, they will do so from outside. It’s a sign that a lack of trust is building between the two camps. The unions would now prefer to run their own campaigns rather than handing cash over to Obama directly. The question is whether absent centralized coordination, the Obama campaign will be on point with the unions. After Wisconsin, it’s far from clear that such singularity of messaging will take place.