New labor SuperPAC jumps into the political field

Labor's new SuperPAC will be called Workers' Voice, the AFL-CIO announced this week. The labor movement says it formed the SuperPac not because it expects, like the corporate SuperPacs, to be able to raise billions of dollars for political campaigns but because it will allow unions to bring their program to non-union members.

 Workers' Voice, the new union SuperPAC, has an initial warchest of $5.4 million, according to the AFL-CIO. It will "activate and energize networks of working families -- both union and non-union -- around political campaigns, legislative issues and holding elected officials accountable," said the labor federation in  a statement.

Workers' Voice is the first entry by anyone other than large corporations into a political field of SuperPACs awash in corporate campaign cash thus far funneled into campaign operations with little or no disclosure or accountability. The SuperPACs were made possible by the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling two years ago.

The typical corporate SuperPAC is funded with tens of millions of dollars from corporations and wealthy right wing power brokers like the oil billionaire Koch brothers. "For too long our political process has been dominated by too much money, and too much power, concentrated in the hands of too few," AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Liz Shuler said as she discussed the formation of Workers Voice in a phone interview.  "That's why Workers' Voice was created, to build an independent voice for the working and middle class.  That voice will be fighting for the 99%: Working people joining together to recognize the value of hard work and call for good jobs, a fair economy and to build a strong middle class."

Workers' Voice will focus on social networking on issues, on voter registration and protection, and on get-out-the-vote efforts, she said. "It will be dedicated to helping communities of color, seniors, and students exercise their right to participate in the process," Shuler added.

AFL-CIO Political Director Michael Podhorzer said the new finance committee would encourage the merging of digital communications with old-fashioned field work, by "empowering people to use the Workers' Voice website to activate their networks to join on e-mail, Facebook and Twitter," to convert their homes into electronic phone banks through the website, and to access voter data tools which they can then use for mailings, e-mails and other voter contacts.

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