Three weeks before the Democratic National Convention this summer, union leaders plan to hold their own "shadow convention" to promote labor issues they believe too many elected officials are ignoring.
The union gathering in Philadelphia on Aug. 11 was inspired by the anger many labor officials felt after Democrats decided to stage their nominating convention in North Carolina, a right-to-work state that is the least unionized in the country.
Most unions are still planning to attend the Charlotte, N.C., convention, but more than a dozen are boycotting it. Other unions are not spending big money on the convention as they have in the past.
"Having the convention in Charlotte was kind of a wakeup call to that fact that really no one's paying attention to the middle class and to working people in this country," said Ed Hill, president of the Electrical Workers union.
The Philadelphia rally will feature thousands of union members and a "union bill of rights" that officials hope becomes a talking point at both the Democratic and Republican Party conventions.
Some Democrats see the event as an unwanted distraction that highlights divisions among traditional political allies, but Hill says unions remain committed to reelecting President Obama.
About a quarter of Democratic convention delegates come from unions.