Big showdown at yesterday’s White House briefing over organized labor.
When I heard that President Obama had met yesterday with former President Bill Clinton and business leaders to talk about creating new green jobs by retrofitting buildings, I asked Robert Gibbs what labor leaders were present.
None, he admitted.
Why not? I wanted to know. Because we’re always in touch with those in organized labor, he said.
Well, I pushed. I often see lunch with business leaders on the president’s calendar. When’s the last time he sat down for lunch with a group of labor leaders? Not since last January, so far as Gibbs could remember.
Which is a big mistake, for three reasons.
One, Obama should not ignore his base. And nobody did more to get him elected than members of organized labor.
Two, nobody knows more about creating jobs than labor leaders. By not including them, Obama missed all the experience and expertise they could offer.
Three, most construction unions have already formed very close partnerships with contractors and developers. They can help business leaders get things done.
Bottom line: Whenever the White House is talking jobs, working men and women, through their union leaders, should be at the table.
That’s my parting shot for today.