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Labor unions swing newfound political muscle 9/3/2012

Emboldened by the Supreme Court's 2010 ruling in the Citizens United case, unions and the labor movement is out to
show their strength at the polling booths. They're not sitting still this Labor Day weekend, and they intend to reach out
to voters far beyond the nation's 14.8 million card-carrying union members.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Labor union demonstrators made their presence known outside the Republican
National Convention in Tampa, Florida and union members plan to be out in force in battleground states this weekend.

While unions remain a critical player in industries such as auto manufacture, the labor union movement is not the size
it once was, representing just 11.8 percent of U.S. workers as of 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, down
from 20 percent as recently as 1983 and 35 percent when the movement was at its peak in the mid-1950s.

Every election year unions demonstrate their political power through the "ground game" of going door-to-door and
mobilizing voters. The 2010 ruling has been a game changer for labor, allowing unions for the first time to use funds and
manpower to zero in on non-union households.

"The ground game is as old as politics. Doesn't mean it's any less important, but they have given us a very new ground
game," Harley Shaiken, a labor professor at the University of California, Berkeley said. "Part of that is reaching out to
non-union families who are sympathetic to labor's political positions.

"The numbers (for organized labor) have undeniably declined. But its ground game will be central to the Democrats'
fortunes in November - and very powerful in a close vote. So labor is playing a critical role particularly as the money
pours into the Republican coffers," Shaiken added.

Union members have begun a door-knocking campaign by visiting 640,000 homes. Activity "will be heavier" in six key
states this weekend and will grow as Election Day nears, Jeff Hauser, spokesman for the AFL-CIO vows.

America's largest union federation is powering its mass mobilization through a fresh alliance with MoveOn.Org, a seven
million-member liberal advocacy group. Hauser says that labor's message is "being crushed financially" by Republicans
who are "dialing up a handful of billionaires, cashing some checks and paying a media consultant to produce hit ads"
slamming Obama.

While the unions are vastly outspent by corporate political action committees, they hope to reach the masses with a
smarter ground game, galvanized at least in part through digital media, Hauser said.

Labor unions had made about $70 million in contributions this election season as of June 30, with 89 percent going to
Democrats, according to the nonpartisan OpenSecrets.org. Corporate interests in the meantime have made hundreds of
millions in donations, with the majority going to Republican candidates.

According to Justin Wilson, managing director of the Center for Union Facts, the labor movement's dwindling is exactly
why the AFL-CIO has unleashed squadrons of activists onto the campaign trail: simply to bolster its influence via a showy
display of force contends The group describes itself not as anti-union but as standing against "union officials' abuse of
power."