By SAM HANANEL, Associated Press
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Union leaders upset that this summer's Democratic National Convention will be held in right-to-work North Carolina plan to stage their own political gathering in a more union-friendly state.
Labor officials say the idea of holding a separate "labor summit" a few weeks ahead of the convention won wide support Wednesday at the AFL-CIO's annual winter meeting.
Most unions are still planning to attend the Charlotte convention, but more than a dozen trade unions are boycotting it. They're angry that Charlotte has no union hotels and North Carolina is the least unionized state in the nation. Some labor leaders consider the choice an affront to a core Democratic constituency.
Ed Hill, president of the Electrical Workers union, said members of Congress, governors and other elected officials would all be invited to attend the labor summit in a union-friendly city, possibly Philadelphia. The gathering would be held three or four weeks before the Democratic National Convention, which is set to begin Sept. 3.
"We're going to talk about labor issues and how we can get our friends in the political arena to talk about labor issues," Hill told The Associated Press.
Hill said unions still strongly support President Barack Obama and don't intend their summit to upstage his nominating convention. Hill's union is among those not going to North Carolina convention.
"The idea is that we're not going to the convention, so we need to have a platform to get our own issues out," Hill said.
The AFL-CIO executive council voted unanimously to endorse Obama's re-election bid on Tuesday and plans to galvanize hundreds of thousands of members to work phone banks, registration drives and door-to-door canvassing efforts.
Several unions that are still attending the Democratic convention plan to be at the labor summit too. Hill said the Steelworkers and Communications Workers have already expressed interest.
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