After labor unions have skirmished for months over which Democratic candidate to support for president, the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s executive board will vote next Thursday to endorse Senator John Kerry, several union leaders said Friday…Several union leaders said John J. Sweeney, the federation’s president, decided to call Thursday’s meeting as soon as he saw that a labor consensus was forming behind Mr. Kerry…Mr. Sweeney’s letter inviting union leaders to the meeting said he was recommending they endorse Mr. Kerry. Mr. Sweeney wrote in bold letters that Mr. Kerry would speak to the board at the end of the vote. This, several union leaders said, signaled that the endorsement was a done deal…

The 19 blue-collar unions that had backed Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, who has withdrawn from the race, announced their endorsement of Mr. Kerry on Wednesday. Mr. Kerry also has the backing of most building trade unions, the American Federation of Teachers, the Communications Workers of America and the United Food and Commercial Workers. Together, these unions represent nearly two-thirds of the federation’s membership; two-thirds backing is needed for a formal endorsement.

Several union leaders said the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which has backed Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont, would vote to endorse Mr. Kerry on Thursday. That union’s president, Gerald McEntee, heads the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s political committee, and several union officials said Mr. Sweeney would not have called Thursday’s meeting without Mr. McEntee’s blessing.

Needless to say, this would be big for Kerry in fighting to prove his progressive credentials to those who see him as too moderate, and his support among working people to those who see him as too patrician. The prospect of an Executive Council endorsement helps to explain why AFSCME would endure the bad press of withdrawing its Dean endorsement. What’s missing from this article is the perspective of UNITE, which recently endorsed Edwards on the grounds that he was better than Kerry on trade, and SEIU, the largest union in the AFL-CIO, which has stood by its Dean endorsement. President Andy Stern wrote recently:

Howard Dean did win one Democratic primary- the fight to show Democrats they can hit Bush and not just survive but thrive. We have regained our fighting spirit, and learned to get off of our knees and on to our feet, and people are energized. Not just an asterisk of this campaign but an exclamation point.

But also:

Have to give John Kerry a lot of credit. He is strong and rolling.

Bets on the first conservative commentator or politician to slur 13 million union workers by calling the AFL-CIO a dangerous special interest?


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