Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

“… With a Different Meaning Since You’ve Been Gone”

It’s that same ol’ song, says Chicago Tribune reporter Stephen Franklin. Prepping for the AFL-CIO-sponsored Democratic presidential debate, he reports the candidates will be pandering to Big Labor and “will probably sound like a giant barbershop quartet, singing different notes in the same song.”

Why are the candidates willing to supplicate themselves so? Big Labor’s largess:

In terms of campaign support, organized labor gave more than $200 million in 2004 to its candidates, according to AFL-CIO officials, and that number is likely to grow in the coming year, labor officials predicted.

AFSCME alone expects to spend more than $50 million, outstripping the $48 million the AFL-CIO spent in 2004, and the Service Employees International Union intends to spend over $60 million, said union President Andy Stern.

UPDATE (10:27 a.m.): The New York Times political blog has a great debate round-up here.