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Unions shift political might to state, local races

October 20, 2012 • Business


FILE – In a Tuesday, March 8, 2011 file photo, potestors stand outside the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich. objecting to proposed legislation that would authorize emergency financial managers to throw out union contracts. Unions are supporting a 2012 ballot initiative that would put collective bargaining rights in the state constitution. (AP Photo/The Detroit News, David Coates, File) MANDATORY CREDIT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Unions are shifting more of their political resources to state and local races this year as they try to head off passage of laws that could undermine bargaining rights, make it harder to organize or reduce their political muscle.

Labor leaders say their top goal remains re-electing President Barack Obama, but several unions are redirecting their focus from the presidential and congressional campaigns to state and local races in dozens of states where they feel threatened.

In New Hampshire, unions want to keep the governor’s seat in Democratic hands to prevent a right-to-work measure. In Maine and Minnesota, labor leaders hope to overturn Republican majorities in state legislatures. And in Michigan, unions are trying to enshrine collective bargaining rights in the state constitution.

The shift comes as organized labor is still reeling from battles in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and other states where governors have sought to limit union rights for public workers or otherwise restrict union power.

“This year we’ve invested in these races more than ever before,” said Brian Weeks, political director of the country’s largest public workers union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Weeks’ union has pledged to spend $100 Login to read more

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