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Woodward said House Speaker John Boehner is in an especially tough position as a wing of his party continues to push for the Republican House to pass government funding bills that chip away at Obamacare, which the Senate and president have said are nonstarters.
“I think his head is spinning. He really is at one of these very difficult moments where he’s got to balance the forces and they’re arrayed against him,” Woodward said.
Still, President Barack Obama has to engage with his opponents, Woodward said, because whatever happens will ultimately be attached to his presidency.
“There is something the president could be doing. He said he will not negotiate on the debt ceiling, a reasonable position. ‘I will not be blackmailed,’ he said. But he should be talking,” Woodward said. “If there is a downturn or a collapse or whatever could
I imagine the men who merged the AFL and the CIO in 1955 would be surprised to learn that when their union federation held its 2013 convention, delegates would vote to oppose mass incarceration and eschew gender identity discrimination—and that those votes would pass with nary a speech in opposition from the floor. I don’t know if they’d find it more or less shocking that, in the intervening six decades, the unionized share of the US workforce would have dropped from a commanding one-third to an isolated ninth—and still shrinking.
That crisis was the context for the AFL-CIO’s quadrennial convention in September, held in Los Angeles: historically low unionization and an attendant ebb in labor’s economic, political and cultural clout. The convention also illustrated promising trends: unions’ greater seriousness about working closely with progressive allies, and their growing openness to workers who want to be in the labor movement but can’t secure collective bargaining in the traditional manner. But it left less clear what the federation can or will do to effect the changes necessary for unions to become more potent partners to these dynamic outside groups, including more effective and intensive organizing to expand union ranks.