AFL-CIO plans $53.4m effort for 2008 election

WASHINGTON: The AFL-CIO plans to spend $53.4 million on grassroots outreach in the 2008 election cycle to back political candidates that support "workers' issues," such as healthcare and the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).

WASHINGTON: The AFL-CIO plans to spend $53.4 million on grassroots outreach in the 2008 election cycle to back political candidates that support "workers' issues," such as healthcare and the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).

AFL-CIO media outreach specialist Steve Smith said that the group's outreach effort will be its most extensive ever. More than 200,000 volunteers will be mobilized to talk with members in the workplace, go door-to-door, call people on the phone and communicate with them online, and otherwise bandy support for particular candidates from the presidential level on down.

"While the presidential race will be the focus, we'll be doing more up and down the ballot - including Senate, congressional, and gubernatorial races," he added. "2006 was the largest [presidential] off-year effort we've ever done, and this year [we're] taking that momentum and putting it into our upcoming effort."

Including support for various political action committees and other campaign spending, unions of the AFL-CIO expect to spend about $200 million during the 2008 election cycle, with an emphasis on 23 "priority" states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota.

Databases that "microtarget" segments of voters will help the AFL-CIO identify issues members in certain areas of the US are especially concerned about, said Smith. He added that the AFL-CIO sometimes hires agencies for projects, but will mainly do this outreach mobilization in-house.

The AFL-CIO has yet to throw its weight behind particular candidates, but its endorsements are expected to be based on support for various issues that affect union members, including support for EFCA, legislation that would make it easier for workers to unionize. The bill was recently passed in the US House, but did not gather sufficient votes in the Senate to prevent a filibuster, ultimately blocking its passage.

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