Meyerson: A Tale of Two Labor Movements

Labor News

State Senator Kevin de León shakes hands with supporters during an event held to formally announce his run for US Senate on October 18, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae Hong)

Reprinted from The American Prospect by Harold Meyerson on April 16, 2018.

“Last Thursday,” writes Harold Meyerson in The American Prospect, “the more than 500 delegates to the convention of the California Labor Federation—the state’s AFL-CIO—voted to endorse liberal Democratic State Senator Kevin de León’s insurgent and uphill bid to unseat longtime incumbent Senator Dianne Feinstein, whom the federation had supported in all her previous US Senate elections, dating back to 1992. Coming from a pillar of the state’s Democratic establishment, the endorsement—which required a two-thirds vote of the delegates—was a stunning development.

“The following day, the leaders of New York’s progressive unions announced that they were severing ties with the state’s Working Families Party—an organization that many of those unions had founded and supported, and that has backed, with notable success, a range of pro-labor progressive candidates in Democratic primaries over the past two decades. The announcements came on the eve of the party’s Saturday meeting, at which it was expected to endorse liberal Cynthia Nixon’s insurgent and uphill Democratic primary challenge to Governor Andrew Cuomo (which, in fact, it did). As reported in The New York Times, the governor had made clear to the unions—most of which had already endorsed him—that they also had to sever their ties to organizations that backed Nixon’s candidacy. …

The American Prospect 4/16

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Jeff Burman represents assistant editors on the Guild’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at

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