Chicago flexes its labor muscle in the fight for the 2024 Democratic convention

Vincent D. Johnson

CHICAGO — The city of big shoulders is going on the offensive in its endeavor to host the 2024 Democratic National Convention, with union leaders making a case that the city and state are more labor friendly than others in contention for the event.

The Chicago Federation of Labor is releasing a new digital ad campaign on Wednesday, first made available to NBC News, laying out a case that it's the home of the labor movement and has a plentiful cast of union members ready to work, particularly at hotels, if the White House places the convention in Chicago.

Chicago, Atlanta and New York are the three cities under consideration for the premier presidential primary event next year, though Chicago and Atlanta are seen as favorites among insiders.

"Joe Biden talks about himself as being the most union president we've ever had and I believe that. That's why it makes sense for him and the convention to come to Chicago," Bob Reiter, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, said in an interview. "We'll be speaking our values as Democrats."


Reiter noted that Georgia is a right-to-work state, meaning employees jobs’ cannot be conditioned upon whether they join or pay dues to a labor organization.

"Brian Kemp, who is the governor of Georgia, he's not going to sign onto something like the workers' rights amendment and amend their constitution to effectively ban right to work and other anti-worker laws," Reiter said of the state's Republican governor, noting past clashes with labor in the state.

Georgia is likewise making an aggressive case to host the convention, leaning on its pivotal role in the civil rights movement and its place as a critical battleground state. And New York has similarly argued it has a strong union record.

But Illinois officials have pushed Chicago as the place for the next convention to make sure there is Midwest representation as the 2024 presidential contest unfolds. (Biden chose Georgia to be among the states to move into the early presidential primary calendar. Iowa was dropped from the first spot, with Michigan moving into the fifth spot.)

Republicans are set to hold their convention in Milwaukee, Wis. next year. The battleground state was technically the site of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, but the Covid pandemic scrapped most in-person events, and Biden accepted his nomination from Delaware. Illinois officials also argue the state, with Democrats holding the governor's office and the legislature, leads in progressive laws, including a new assault weapons ban and accessible voting laws.

Biden, as head of the Democratic Party, will ultimately decide the placement of the convention. A group with the Democratic National Committee has visited the cities still in contention and is to make a forthcoming recommendation, likely this spring.

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