Labor leaders tee off on Barack Obama, Harry Reid
By BEN SMITH & JOHN BRESNAHAN | 4/14/11 5:20 PM EDT
Top labor leaders excoriated President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in a closed session of the AFL-CIO’s executive board meeting in Washington Wednesday, three labor sources said.
Furious union presidents complained about budget cuts, a new trade agreement and what some view as their abandonment, even by their typically reliable allies among Senate Democrats.
“Now, not only are we getting screwed by the Republicans but the Democrats are doing it too,” said one union official, characterizing the mood at a summit of labor leaders who are worried that Democrats seem unlikely to go to the mat for them as an election year approaches.
Presidents of several unions and an AFL-CIO spokesman declined to repeat their private criticism to a reporter Tuesday, a sign that labor feels it must still try to maintain a relationship with the Democratic Party, even if it’s deeply troubled . With Republicans increasingly shifting from private antagonism toward open war with organized labor, unreliable Democratic allies are the only allies the movement has, and it remains unclear whether disappointments will dampen enthusiasm among union activists and voters in the 2012 elections.