Political action and strikes are the poles between which much of America’ labor activism has oscillated. Efforts to promote change through electoral and legislative action alternate with spurts of organizing and strikes in which workers seek change through direct action aimed at employers.
It is customary to think of organized labor’s role in politics in terms of partisan support of candidates for elected office. Through their Committee on Non-Partisan Political Action and Committee on Political Education (COPE), Rochester’s central labor bodies have supported parties and platforms and have endorsed and worked for individual candidates at the local, state and national level.
Of course the purpose in electing politicians to office is to get them to vote for or against legislation that affects unions and their members. For years this was the task of the Legislative and Congressional committees, which monitored the voting records of elected representatives and pressured them on labor issues ranging from convict labor and the 8-hour day to the minimum wage, Taft-Hartley and Medicare.