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On Labor Day, some Democrats avoid convention

CHARLOTTE, N.C. Today, Ed Hill will be in Pittsburgh for the city’s Labor Day Parade.

He won’t be in Charlotte this week for the Democratic National Convention. Hill’s made it clear he won’t be attending.

“I’m disappointed by the fact that not only did (the Democrats) choose the Carolinas, but they didn’t talk to us,” said Hill, president of the 675,000-member International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union.

“That’s the first time that’s happened in many years.”

Key labor groups like Hill’s weren’t happy with Democrats’ choosing Charlotte, citing North Carolina’s status as the least-unionized state in the country.

It’s a choice that has meant lost support among key labor groups like Hill’s. In Denver in 2008, the IBEW put more than $1 million into that convention, sponsoring parties and a convention hall box.

No donations this time around for Charlotte, Hill said in a phone interview last week.

Attending the Charlotte convention has always been out of the question for Hill.

“There are no hotels down there that are built union, or operated union that I could stay in,” he said. “I get kind of funny about that.”

But IBEW will still be well-represented. It’s like a case of “not being happy with what your children did, but still not disowning them,” Hill said.

IBEW is paying the way for 35-plus delegates, who will also participate an AFL-CIO gathering for all labor delegates. They’ll talk about the needs of working families, and grassroots efforts to elect pro-union candidates.

Hill said he’s also putting his energy behind promoting a “Second Bill of Rights,” launched last month at a labor rally in Philadelphia, which he describes as promoting the needs of middle-class families.

He said some of those issues are reflected in the Democratic Party platform to be ratified at the convention. There’s talk that the platform could include recommendations for a hike in the minimum wage.

Smith: 704-358-5087
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