Labor Gets Involved In Town-Halls

In the past few days, liberal activists have started to plan their counterattack on the conservative opponents of health care reform; now, the AFL-CIO says it will get involved, too. In a memo to presidents of national and international unions, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney called on affiliate unions to launch a 30-day campaign of activism in support of health care reform--and, perhaps most significantly, to turn out union members to town-hall meetings. Part of the plan is to "organize major union participation in Congressional Town Hall meetings, both live and virtual 'Tele-Town Hall Meetings. A list of these meetings will be sent to you as soon as we receive it along with the list of approximately 50 high priority districts," the memo states.

Labor unions have traditionally provided the foot soldiers in Democratic politics, waving signs, phone banking and turning out they'll play in town-halls, where conservatives have been outperforming liberals in attendance, shouting down reform and generally dominating both the meetings and the national news coverage of the White House's reform effort.

Liberal activists have one significant advantage over conservatives in the race to turn out more supporters to these town-halls: they can coordinate attendance with Democratic representatives, and they've worked with these lawmakers before. Earlier this week, Health Care for America Now!, a liberal coalition of which the AFL-CIO is a part, issued its guidelines for the new town-hall fight; the AFL-CIO's campaign, however, signifies a targeted effort to win these battles in the swing-vote districts conservatives have gone after.