Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Guest Post: Report from the Alameda Labor Council's Endorsement Meeting

The following is Mike Bird’s first-hand account of last night’s Alameda County Central Labor Council endorsement meeting, at which the Alameda County CLC endorsed Jerry McNerney for the CA-11 Democratic primary. The account was originally posted as a comment here.

Bird is a supporter of Jerry McNerney and an active member of his union. He is also a regular reader of Say No to Pombo.

I am reposting the text of his comment here without discussing, or indeed editing, its contents. I have done so partially because Mike Bird has attached both his name and his phone number to his account of what happened. So treat this as a guest post. (Go here for my early take on what I think the endorsement means).

Lastly, I am posting this here with the proviso that Bird speaks for himself, not as an official representative of the McNerney Campaign.


Alameda Central Labor Council* Delegates met last night on Monday February 6th, and endorsed 11th CD Congressional Candidate Jerry McNerney for the June Democratic Primary.

Candidates Steve Filson, Steve Thomas, and Jerry McNerney each gave 20 minute presentations and then answered questions. This was a candidate interview, not a debate; each politician addressed the delegates alone. Seventy plus rank & file delegates along with several elected union office holders attended a packed meeting.

Immediately following a vote was held, and Jerry McNerney overwhelmingly won. Three reasons mathematician Jerry McNerney won.

1) Jerry connected with Labor Delegates by creating shared visions. He then skillfully enlisted audience support asking, ‘If we are to make this happen, I will need your help.’

2) Jerry does not stand up telling how great a person he is. It is more believable when friends and volunteers give personal recommendations.

3) When it comes to winning union endorsements “Filson is Clueless.” A quote from an up & coming political person observing last night’s proceedings.

McNerney Quotes:
“For too long, the Democratic Party has taken Labor for granted, if you elect me I will not do that, I will fight for you.” McNerney concluded, with a dramatic pause, “Here’s the deal If you Endorse Me, I will support Labor on every issue...... like George Miller has.” (D-CA)

Delegates to speak in favor of McNerney.

Jim Prola AFSCME Retirees Local 57 & FORUM (Fed of Retired Union Members)

Michael Eisenscher
Peralta Fed of Teachers Local 1603 & US Labor Against War (USLAW)

Victor Uno, Business Mgr.
IBEW local 595

Victor Pamiroyan
ILWU local 6

Joe Coy, Pres.
San Joaquin Central Labor Council Pres IAM local 1546 & Dist 19

Michael Bird
District One MEBA Marine Engineers

No Delegates spoke in favor of Filson

Steve Filson repeated a phrase I heard last time I met him, “Labor.., that’s my Base.” Both times he has lost a major labor endorsement. In my opinion Filson suffers from a White collar / Blue collar Disconnect; that image cannot be changed by being the only candidate to dress down and not wear a tie.

When asked why he was running for office, Filson started out strong explaining how as an Untied Airlines pilot he had lost his pension, and felt this was the best way he could fight back. For three minutes Filson had the audience in the cockpit flying with him, concerned about his personal ordeal. Filson started losing delegate’s attention when he quickly shifted to election challenges that lay ahead. A skilled and crafted speaker would have next identified and addressed the audiences concerns, Filson didn’t. He then drove the proverbial wedge deeper explaining a Central Valley Democratic victory required a centralist conservative strategy.

Filson claimed he would not support a withdrawal time table from Iraq, but conceded withdrawal a likely scenario. Unbeknownst to Filson the questioner was none other than USLAW national anti-war leader Michael Eisenscher. In response to Eisenscher’s follow up question Filson blundered badly.

Asked if it was necessary to send (or spend?) more bodies (or blood?) to Iraq if we are going to withdrawal anyway, Filson replied to the effect, ‘look, I can’t agree with your position and still win in the Central Valley. We can’t agree on all issues, but trust me I am with you on Labor.’

When question about how his strategy for victory would unfold, Filson greatly underestimated the political savvy of the audience. All I remember is a low toned insult which claimed, ‘I don’t expect you’d Get the complexities in undertaking a commercial/ media type campaign.’

The Alameda Council is legendary for its phone banking system, Get Out the Vote efforts, and over the years many members have developed personal relationships with some of the state’s top political leaders.

*The National AFL-CIO has recognized the Alameda Central Labor Council as one of the most effective labor organizations in the country. The Council represents 130 Union Locals from the East Bay; ranging from private employees to federal, state and local public employees, including, "the Whole Working World of labor," according to Exec Director Sharon Cornu.

Matt, or anyone seeking more info call me at (925)249-0427.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for the disclaimer pointing out that Bird is an active supporter of McNerney.


8:47 PM, February 07, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting account -- a coup for McNerney. Filson apparently has some way to go in crafting his message for his audience. To his credit, though, he is sticking to some tough positions. It shouldn't matter whether or not he knew the Iraq questioner was a national anti-war activist -- he really does believe it is dangerous at this point to have a withdrawal timetable in Iraq. There is plenty of disagreement on that issue in our party and some people will support McNerney as a result -- it's tough to get around that.

On another note, McNerney's statement that he will support labor on every issue, no questions asked, doesn't do much to support the claim that he is a moderate who can win in the 11th. A moderate, almost by definition, looks at each issue on its own terms. These are the perils of the primary -- Pombo will have a field day with blanket declarations like that.

9:05 AM, February 08, 2006  

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