U.S. labor unions, having helped Barack Obama win the presidency, entertain high hopes he will enact their agenda to bolster their negotiating power with employers and increase their numbers after decades of decline, reuters reported.
Unions have "an unprecedented amount of leverage" after turning out white middle-class voters for Obama in battleground industrial states like Pennsylvania and Ohio that he won in Tuesday's election but had lost in the Democratic nominating primaries, said University of Illinois-Chicago labor expert Robert Bruno.
"American workers won this election," said Anna Burger, chairman of the labor coalition "Change to Win" at a news conference this week in Washington. "The mandate has never been so overwhelming for a progressive economic agenda."
A cornerstone of labor's agenda is passage of the Employee Free Choice Act that unions argue restores balance to its negotiations with employers, but is described as "Armageddon" by a leading business group.
Burger said she expected the measure and other parts of the unions' agenda to be addressed in the first 100 days of the Obama administration, which takes office on January 20.
Other labor leaders sought to dampen the notion they were owed something by the incoming administration.
"That is not the way Obama works," said Bill Samuel, legislative director of the AFL-CIO, America's biggest labor organization.
"We are part of the conversation about the economy right now in a way that we weren't when the Republicans were in charge ... we see the world in the same way (as Democratic leaders)," Samuel said.