10/18/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Labor Gets Tough and Threatens to Cut Off Cowardly Democrats

For a long time, Corporate Democrats have taken advantage of organized labor to mobilize voters for them and fund their campaigns. However, when big votes come up against powerful corporate interests, these Democrats continually abandon organized labor on key issues like the public option, Employee Free Choice Act, trade agreements, and other issues important for working people.

Ironically, they still go back to labor when they need them to get elected and in the past labor has often complied, giving them funds and ground troops.

Speaking yesterday at the Center for American Progress, Richard Trumka, the incoming president of the AFL-CIO, said those days are over. He put a shoot across the bow of such cowardly Democrats:

Today, more than ever, we need to be a labor movement that stands by our friends, punishes its enemies, and challenges those who, well, can't seem to decide which side they're on. I'm talking about the politicians who always want us to turn out our members to vote for them, but who somehow, always seem to forget workers after the votes are counted.

In an effort to counter wavering Democrats, organized labor has asked Democrats a fundamental question: Which Side Are They On? Democrats are either with working people or against them.

This isn't just some rhetoric designed to be molded to some vague, yet-to-be-defined compromise: Labor is making very specific demands. In an interview today on Politico, incoming AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said that the AFL-CIO will not support a bill that does not have a public option, an employer mandate for coverage, and no tax on employer-provided health benefits.

These are serious demands that every Democrat will now be forced to listen to due to labor's threat to cut off support. The labor movement under the leadership of Richard Trumka intends to be much more aggressive in forcing Democrats to stand by their campaign promises to working people.

Speaking last month at the Sheet Metal Workers Convention, Richard Trumka said:

Well, we need to send them a special message: it's that you may have forgotten what the labor movement did to get you elected; but, by God, we never will! And if you stab us in the back on health care this year don't you dare ask us for our support next year!

The labor movement is saying no surrender, no defeat in our fight for health care, an economy for all, the Employee Free Choice Act, and a host of other issues. The days of labor movement laying down and accepting what Democrats offer to give them are over.

The message to Democrats is clear: "Which Side Are You On?". You are either with us or against us.