AFL-CIO bolsters super-PAC for general-election push

The nation’s largest labor federation is bolstering its super-PAC as the 2012 election season kicks into high gear. 

On Thursday, the AFL-CIO will announce that the Workers’ Voice super-PAC is bringing on new staff and revving up its presence online. 

Eddie Vale, a former AFL-CIO communications operative, is joining the super-PAC as communications director. Tim Tagaris, once a new-media director for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), will become digital director.

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Tagaris’s hire underlines the group’s emphasis on digital political campaigning. Tagaris has helped pioneer some of the tools used in digital politics — online fundraising, Internet ads and email targeting — for Democratic campaigns at the state and national levels.

The super-PAC plans to use email and social media to connect to voters. In addition, it will unveil a new digital organizing tool called Amicus that combines online campaigning with labor’s traditional strength in ground-game canvassing and phone banking. 

The AFL-CIO’s super-PAC was created last year. So far, the group has raised more than $3.7 million, according to Federal Election Commission records.

The labor federation has set a goal of connecting to union and non-union workers alike this election year, and the super-PAC is part of the effort. The AFL-CIO says the super-PAC will not be dismantled after Election Day, in line with the federation’s push to build a permanent infrastructure for campaigning on legislative issues and lobbying lawmakers. 

AFL-CIO officials have said they don’t expect Workers’ Voice to compete dollar for dollar with Republican-leaning super-PACs like American Crossroads that will be major players in the 2012 election. The labor group is expected to focus less of its spending on TV ads but more on organizing voters.

Workers’ Voice is holding a press briefing with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Michael Podhorzer, the labor federation's political director, on its election-year plans at 11:30 a.m. Thursday. The event will be streamed live here.