A new labor-backed group that aims to help elect a Democratic president by mobilizing nonunion voters announced a new board yesterday, two weeks after its three directors resigned in a split that rocked organized labor.
In announcing the new board, labor leaders said, the group, the Partnership for American Families, sought to reassure unions and their allies, including women's and environmental groups, that the partnership would survive its infighting.
The partnership's survival was called into question two weeks ago when its chairman, Gerald McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, resigned from the board while castigating the partnership for not obtaining enough support from unions and other groups.
But many union leaders said Mr. McEntee resigned because of a personality clash with the partnership's executive director, Steve Rosenthal, the former political director of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. who is widely praised for helping reinvigorate labor as a political force.
In recent days several Democratic strategists voiced fears that if the partnership foundered, that could jeopardize the Democrats' hopes of winning back the White House next year. The partnership is seeking to collect $30 million in soft money to mobilize nonunion groups pivotal to many of the Democrats' past successes, including blacks, Hispanics and women.
The partnership's reconstituted board includes several union leaders, including Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, Arturo Rodriguez, president of the United Farm Workers, and John Wilhelm, president of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union.
Several supporters of the partnership said they hoped that naming a new board that included well-known labor leaders would ensure the group's survival and cause many other unions to back the partnership and pledge money.
"We believe that in 2004 there needs to be an active effort among nonunion voters," said Mr. Stern, a strong supporter of Mr. Rosenthal. "We think some of the most successful union leaders and grassroots organizers are committed to doing that, and we invite others to join us."
Other new board members include James Williams, president of the painters' union, Edward Fire, president of the International Union of Electronic Workers-Communications Workers of America, Miguel Contreras, executive secretary of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and George Gresham, secretary-treasurer of 1199/S.E.I.U., the 240,000-member health-care union in New York.
Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company