Workers' Voice, which has raised $5.4 million in the last two quarters and has $4.1 million cash on hand, is seeking to combat the spending by conservative super PACs by creating a nationwide network to galvanize all workers, labor leaders said.
"Citizens United was a bad decision ... but I think the bottom line here is the result of Citizens United was this crushing amount of money that's flowing in from secret sources, deep pockets," AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler said at a press conference. "We're never going to be able to compete with that as unions. We'll probably end up being outspent by 20 to one. But the thing we can compete on is the people power, the boots on the ground."
Thanks to Citizens United, union activists are freed from previous rules that limited them to only being able to contact fellow union members. Now, when the super PAC's full fleet of online tools is rolled out in the next few weeks, officials will be able to track, by zip code, where their members' friends and contacts live so they can plan broader canvassing efforts than they had in the past.
The super PAC's tools will also include a Click-to-Call button so activists can make calls from home instead of going to a phone bank and a function that will allow people to create customized postcards to send to faraway contacts.
The labor movement is hoping that the grassroots effort - including the push by activists to contact people they know - will help unite all workers.
"This is more powerful than TV ads," AFL-CIO political director Michael Podhorzer said. "It's harder work. It isn't writing a check to a consultant and then putting something on TV, but it's empowering Americans to take control."
Workers' Voice will also launch voter registration and protection drives, to ensure that voter laws do not restrict minorities, seniors or students from voting, officials said.
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