Labor’s Risky Plunge into Politics

Labor’s Risky Plunge into Politics

In July 1983 Marty Manley, one of a number of able young staffers laid off by the decimated International Association of Machinists, traveled to Washington to meet with Paul Jensen, labor liaison of the Mondale campaign. Manley had come to propose that the campaign adopt a variant of the IAM’s On-the-Job Canvass, a program in which Machinist shop stewards polled their members in the workplaces and used their responses to develop a range of programs in the shops. In the San Jose local in which the IAM’s associate political director, Marjorie Phyfe, had put such a program in place, and where Manley had then carried it through, the voluntary political contributions from the 2,200 members had risen in a year’s time from $600 to $28,000. Given the centrality of labor to the Mondale campaign, Manley argued, this was a program with all kinds of potential for building grass-roots support exactly where Mondale needed it.

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