Anyone interested in the politics of Los Angeles and California -- which are increasingly the politics of labor -- should read Harold Meyerson's piece in today's Los Angeles Times. He lays out one of the internal struggles within labor, involving both SEIU and Unite Here. Meyerson has limited space here, and doesn't draw detailed connections to the state's politics. But he makes the point that the fights (and I blame SEIU for much of the internal strife, which is essentially a policy of self-sabotage) could be very bad for reform in the city and in the state.
In this one passage, he draws a link to how the fighting could spoil an opportunity for crucial budget reform in the state:
"The SEIU's Los Angeles locals represent nearly half the members in the 800,000-member County Federation. If those members opted to withhold dues or their participation in the federation's campaigns, they could cripple the most significant force in California politics. In the '90s, labor played a decisive role in transforming the congressional and legislative districts in Los Angeles' suburbs from Republican to Democratic. Last November, Barack Obama carried seven Southern California congressional districts currently represented by Republicans. A push by a unified labor movement over the next three elections could turn L.A.'s exurbs Democratic too, and give labor-friendly Democrats a decisive two-thirds supermajority in both houses of the Legislature.
"As the state's largest public-sector and healthcare union, the SEIU would benefit greatly from such a change."