In the course of pursuing the best interests of their members, unions may interact with numerous groups besides management. One such group is made up of political figures. The relationship between unions and politicians can be complex. Each has something the other wants--unions represent large blocks of voters, while politicians write the laws that can affect the conditions under which union members work.
For example, while it is not clear if members of the Capital District Union Label and Service Trades Council found a union label in the jacket of Mayor Erastus Corning II, they needed his support for "union label week" to be officially proclaimed in the City of Albany each year. In exchange, officials of the Council and the local joint boards of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America could endorse Mayor Corning each time he was up for re-election and encourage their members to vote for him.
The balance of power between labor and politicians can be delicate, often depending on the assumed power of the other. For labor organizations, a key factor is the size of their membership. As noted in a telegram sent to the president of the Troy Area CIO political action committee in 1952, "the fundamental requirement of our political action is registration of our membership." With the clout of their members behind them, union representatives do not hesitate to take their case to politicians, meeting with them and lobbying for the interests of their union and their members.
Another way for labor organizations to get their message to legislators is to testify at public hearings held by various legislative committees. The testimony prepared for legislative hearings allows the union to clearly spell out its concerns and objectives while press releases relating to the testimony provide summaries of the key points.