Established in January 2007 after the Democratic Party had won control of both Houses of Congress in the November 2006 elections, Working For Us (WFU) is a political action committee that strongly supports Democrat candidates for elected office. By the same token, the organization aims to hold “Democrats electorally accountable on economic and community security issues and to elect lawmakers who support a progressive political agenda.” WFU was originally proposed by Andrew Stern, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), as a way to keep conservative and moderate Democrats from gaining too much influence over the party. “We are driven by real progressive values,” says WFU, “[and] we expect our Members of Congress to always be working for us — America’s families — and we’re here to make sure they do.”
WFU identifies its three core principles as follows: (a) “Lawmakers should represent the interests of the constituents they represent”; (b) “Lawmakers, especially Democrats, should fight for the middle class”; and (c) “Those who don’t [fight for the middle class] should be replaced by lawmakers who will.”
In an effort to uphold these principles, WFU publishes the names of what it calls the “Top Offenders” among congressional Democrats who fail to support such leftist priorities as “living wage” legislation, the proliferation of labor unions, and the provision of universal, government-funded healthcare for all Americans. Focusing specifically on Democratic members of Congress whose “voting records are more conservative than their districts,” WFU says: “No bad vote will be overlooked or unpunished.”
In its earliest days, WFU named Representatives Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), Ellen Tauscher (D-California), and Al Wynn (D-Maryland) as the “Top Offenders” most guilty of voting “against the interests of their working-class constituents.”
Favoring large-scale income redistribution by means of tax hikes for higher earners, WFU advocates policies that would narrow the economic gulf between the rich and poor. To help make its case, the organization quotes a New York Times opinion piece that reads: “In 2005 … the top 1 percent of Americans — whose average income was $1.1 million a year — received 21.8 percent of the nation’s income, their largest share since 1929.” By logical extension, WFU supports political candidates who espouse similar views vis a vis income taxes.
The Executive Director of WFU is Steven Rosenthal, a longtime Democrat operative with close ties to the Clinton administration and a co-founder of America Coming Together. According to Rosenthal, WFU “will encourage Democrats to act like Democrats — and if they don’t — they better get out of the way.”
WFU also has a 501(c)4 nonprofit component called They Work For Us (TWFU), which functions as a “grassroots and grasstops lobbying” project designed to:
(a) pressure lawmakers to support leftist agendas
(b) raise funds for opposition campaigns against Democratic legislators whose voting records are deemed too conservative. As of January 22, 2007, TWFU had already raised some $200,000 for this purpose.
Asserting that its success is based on collaboration with “state and local activists, the netroots and progressive organizations,” WFU is governed by a number of dedicated leftists. In addition to Steven Rosenthal, the Directors of WFU and TWFU include: Anna Burger, Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU; Tyrone Freeman, General President of SEIU Local 434B; Linda Lipsen, a Senior Vice President at the American Association for Justice; Thomas Mattzie, Washington Director of MoveOn.org Political Action; Michael Monroe, Administrator for Government Affairs, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades; Eli Pariser, Executive Director of MoveOn.org PAC; and the blogger/activist Markos Moulitsas Zuniga. Says Zuniga, “They Work For Us will give challengers the sort of heft that challengers often lack against entrenched (and oftentimes corrupt) incumbents — especially those in ‘safe’ Democratic districts. … It’s like the Super Friends of progressive politics.”