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Organized labor and Obama

From NBC's Mark Murray
In the latest issue of National Journal, Kirk Victor notes that Obama's presidency hasn't been a complete boon to organized labor. Obama hasn't made the Employee Free Choice Act, or card check, a top priority; his economic team is made up mostly of pro-market advocates; and it's a still an open question how influential the union champions in his administration (Vice President Biden, Biden economic adviser Jared Bernstein, and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis) are.

But as Victor writes, organized labor hasn't been too displeased with the young Obama administration. "Despite that list of concerns, in discussions with union leaders in Washington and in the nation's heartland, one hears hardly a peep of protest. Invariably, union activists tick off the positive things that Obama has done" -- like issuing executive orders that have benefited labor and signing the economic stimulus into law.

And this news today should make organized labor happy. First Read has learned that Mary Beth Maxwell -- executive director of the pro-labor American Rights at Work and a person whose name was floated as a potential Labor secretary -- will join the Labor Department as a senior adviser. Maxwell also will work on Biden's middle-class task force.

*** UPDATE *** Indeed, here's AFL-CIO president John Sweeney's statement on the hire: "It is a great day for America's working families who gain yet another strong advocate in the Obama administration."