During my doctoral research (Gillard was still Rudd's loyal deputy at that stage), one national secretary of an ALP-affiliated union offered me this brief history:
I think that’s a bit of a myth too. I mean she never worked for a union. She worked for a labour law firm which is a different thing. I reckon working as a solicitor on an hourly rate briefing and being a partner in a major firm is very different to doing the day to day work of a trade union official.
She had good relations with a small number of key unions in Victoria, her support was really around the forestry, timberworkers the MEU that’s in the ASU now and one small branch of the health services union and that was about it.
If you actually look at it, she mentioned the other day in an article I read how she had a couple of cracks at pre-selection. Well, the left really blocked her she was part of the socialist forum group, she was part of that tendency which was very much a minority in the Left and in her first couple of attempts to get preselection she didn’t get up and it wasn’t until there was a split and that small group of the left cut a deal with the right and that’s what got her, Martin Ferguson and a few others preselected.
Her approach into the left really came through student politics out of the socialist forum and she's much more of a centrist and probably more about getting Julia up there she is a very talented and ambitious person not deeply wedded to left ideology in my view and you know tough, seriously tough and hard-working. But I don’t know that she is actually that close to the unions you know.