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Gerald McEntee
Retiring AFSCME President Gerald McEntee
(Molly Theobald/AFL-CIO)

After more than 30 years as president of AFSCME, Gerald McEntee is retiring, sparking an unusually heated campaign for a union presidency. Lee Saunders, secretary-treasurer of the public workers union, and Danny Donohue, president of AFSCME's largest local, the New York Civil Service Employees Association, are believed to be in a tight race. The two previously faced off in the 2010 election that made Saunders secretary-treasurer by a narrow margin.

Saunders is stressing his work on AFSCME's major campaigns of recent years, from the successful effort to defeat Ohio's anti-union Senate Bill 5 to the unsuccessful effort to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and his efforts to deepen AFSCME's relationships throughout the progressive movement. Donohue, meanwhile, argues that Saunders has spent most of his career as a union staffer rather than a union leader, and that Saunders is a Washington, D.C. insider at a time when AFSCME needs to focus more on state and local organizing and elections. As the New York Times' Steven Greenhouse reported:

[Donohue] has repeatedly attacked Mr. Saunders and Mr. McEntee for “checkbook unionism,” saying they have spent too much on national races, including the $90 million that Mr. McEntee said the union spent in the 2010 campaign. Mr. Donohue has suggested he would cut back Afscme’s national political ambitions to make the union more effective in state and local elections.

Mr. Saunders accused Mr. Donohue of spreading misinformation. “Sixty-five percent of our political budget goes into state and local battlegrounds,” he said. He also noted that Mr. Donohue sat on the union’s executive board for two decades without objecting to Afscme’s political spending.

Whoever is the next president of AFSCME faces a major challenge, taking over leadership from as longstanding a president as McEntee and doing so when public workers are under such a widespread and sustained attack, battered both by budget cuts and by Republicans determined to weaken unions. The new president will be determined this week; the course he sets will take longer to become clear, and its success still longer.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 09:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement and Progressive Hippie.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The Union that works for YOU (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    4Freedom, Larsstephens

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 09:42:45 AM PDT

  •  An explanation for this? (0+ / 0-)

    Dramatic drop in union membership among WI public employees  

    Wisconsin membership in the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees-the state's second-largest public-sector union after the National Education Association, which represents teachers-fell to 28,745 in February from 62,818 in March 2011, according to a person who has viewed Afscme's figures. A spokesman for Afscme declined to comment.
    From your post
    public workers are under such a widespread and sustained attack, battered both by budget cuts and by Republicans determined to weaken unions.
    Agree.

    But what truly explains members deserting the union when they had a choice?

    This was mentioned during the recall by the right ( of course ) and the left...even Ed Schultz gave it passing mention.

    How is this reconciled?

    the course he sets will take longer to become clear, and its success still longer.
    Just askin',  Have not seen this phenomenon discussed or dissected here.   Maybe I missed it?

    Thanks.

    Somebody said Party! I got excited. I love Parties! Especially Parties with exclamation marks! Now I'm sad because there's not a Party! h/t AnnetteK ;-)

    by EdMass on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 09:50:18 AM PDT

    •  If they can't collectively bargain (0+ / 0-)

      there is less incentive to be in a union, as they are no longer able to gain as much benefit from their union membership. Also, I don't know if those numbers count locals that disorganized because they couldn't get 50% of membership (not those voting) to vote for recertification.

      Male, 21, -4.75/-6.92, born and raised TN-05, now WI-02, remorseless supporter of Walker's recall. Pocan for Congress and Baldwin for Senate!

      by fearlessfred14 on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 08:00:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I thought that (0+ / 0-)

        the action against collective bargaining had to do with health care and pensions.  Salary was still able to be collectively bargained?  Salary seems like a good reason to stay in?

        Somebody said Party! I got excited. I love Parties! Especially Parties with exclamation marks! Now I'm sad because there's not a Party! h/t AnnetteK ;-)

        by EdMass on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 10:49:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not exactly (0+ / 0-)

          as any salary increases above inflation would have to go through a referendum. In addition, bargaining over conditions was also nixed, so now school districts have made teachers work much longer hours and put up with a lot more bizarre requirements to get the same salary. If anything, other professions such as nurses had it even worse in that regard. That plus the 50% of membership (rather than those voting) recertification rule made public union organizing much less attractive.

          Male, 21, -4.75/-6.92, born and raised TN-05, now WI-02, remorseless supporter of Walker's recall. Pocan for Congress and Baldwin for Senate!

          by fearlessfred14 on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 11:05:04 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Good F'king Riddance? 90 Million for 2010 is DLC (0+ / 0-)

    DNC Big Union Boss In D.C. kind of bullshit -

    how come,

    when there is 1 or many proposed changes in the clauses of rules and regulations and laws,

    AND

    those changes will take money out of the pockets of hundreds or thousands or millions of us working stiffs - OR - just prevent the money from ever going to our pockets,

    how come there aren't scores and hundreds of working stiffs hanging out in the front of the house & in front of the daycare & in front of the eatery & in front of the coffee shop & in front of ... OF THE PEOPLE PROPOSING THE STUFF TO $CREW U$?

    Because it would be a major pain in the ass to organize and to keep open so people felt part of the process instead of pawns of the process ... ??

    because it would prevent these inside the beltway hacks from having all the right people lined up to ki$$ their ring to get a chunk of that $90,000,000 ??

    One 1 hand, I am speaking out of my ass, cuz I do NOT know exactly what this guy has done in 30 years ...

    on the other hand,

    given the complete fucking the bottom 80%++ of us have gotten in retirement security, health access security, retraining security, unemployment security, housing security, educational access security --

    YAWN

    people can spare sending me lists of whatever this guy has 'accomplished' - I'm sure it will be like rest of the Lessor Of Two Evil lists that the Democratic Party has relied on during 30 years of chasing the fascist lying spawn of Raygun.

    rmm.

    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 11:49:53 AM PDT

  •  Whistling Past a Cemetery (0+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Hidden by:
    fearlessfred14

    The irrelevance to the working man of this incestuous contest cannot be overstated,

    Public Unions, however large, are the natural enemy of the unionized private sector working class since the former suck up tax monies which could be allocated to organizing private unions who are the only legitimate representatives of their families and our standard of living.

    Public Unions, are unproductive, inflationary and are natural enemies of the tax payer and legitimate private industry who will never enjoy the wage, tenure and pensions of the sloths and parasites.

    •  HR'd for insulting public servants (0+ / 0-)

      who, by the way, are workers too. Just to make it clear, this:

      legitimate private industry who will never enjoy the wage, tenure and pensions of the sloths and parasites.
      Is what you are being hiderated for. You just called firefighters, police, teachers, sanitation workers, and many other hardworking people "sloths and parasites". Also, if a private union legitimately represents the family and standard of living of a factory worker, is not a public union just as legitimate a representative of the family of a police officer?

      Male, 21, -4.75/-6.92, born and raised TN-05, now WI-02, remorseless supporter of Walker's recall. Pocan for Congress and Baldwin for Senate!

      by fearlessfred14 on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 08:10:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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