WASHINGTON -- The AFL-CIO has told its member unions that it won't make significant contributions or host events at this year's Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., while it works to establish its political independence from the Democratic Party.
In a memo to union presidents on Monday, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said he will host a meeting of federation members who are serving as delegates but this will be the extent of his group's involvement at this summer's convention.
"In recognition of the changes we have made in our political program ... and our desire to engage in politics in a more effective and grassroots way, this year we will not be making major monetary contributions to the Convention or the Host Committee for events or activities around the convention," Trumka wrote. "We won’t be buying skyboxes, hosting events other than the Labor Delegates meeting or bringing a big staff contingent to the convention."
The letter was passed to HuffPost by a labor official, who said the move probably had little to do with unions' disenchantment about the siting of the convention in Charlotte. North Carolina is a right-to-work state with low union participation, and some unions have gone so far as to boycott the event in protest.
Instead, Trumka's letter has more to do with the AFL-CIO's hopes to establish a political structure outside of the Democratic Party, the official said. "If [the convention] were in Detroit, Mich.," the official said, "this would be [the] basic approach to it."
In the past, the AFL-CIO has hosted events at the Democratic convention, such as an economic forum held in Denver in 2008. But this year, the AFL-CIO plans to instead put its money toward its "core political work," like voter registration, Trumka said.
"The priority in this cycle is to register and protect voters -- together with our allies -- and to educate and mobilize working class voters to stand up for themselves and their families and elect leaders who’ll stand with us," Trumka wrote, adding that the AFL-CIO is "deeply committed to re-electing President Obama and Vice President Biden."
View the letter below:
Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas)
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.)
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)
Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.)
West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.)
Rep. Bill Owens (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Mark Critz (D-Pa.)
Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah)
Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga.