On one hand, I agree with the AFL-CIO leaders that busting up the affiliation could weaken union coalition efforts. But on the other hand, I agree with Andy Stern and the SEIU that a change is needed to prevent labor unions from fading into oblivion
Four major unions decided Sunday to boycott the AFL-CIO convention, setting the stage for one or more to bolt from the 50-year-old federation in a battle over how to reverse organized labor's decades-long decline, The Associated Press has learned.
The protest is led by Andy Stern, president of the federation's largest union, the 1.8 million-member Service Employees International Union. He is virtually certain to pull his union out of the AFL-CIO in coming days, with hopes of bringing his allies along, officials said.
Part of Stern's strategery is to introduce competition into the union organization, infuse new energy into organizational efforts.
Leaders of the dissident unions say the AFL-CIO leadership has done too little to stop the steep decline in union membership nationwide. In addition to seeking the ouster of Sweeney, they have demanded more money for organizing and the power to force mergers of smaller unions.
Lockedout Dockworker, Oakland CA. David Bacon (2003)
In my day job, I am management and sit across the table from union representatives in collective bargaining frequently. I work hard to ensure the union gets a fair shake and honestly address their concerns and the concerns of management (in a non-profit organization). Election Day 2004 I worked as a canvasser in Tacoma out of the Longshoremen's union hall. There was much documentation of the West Coast Dockworkers strike in 2003. Their courage in the face of Bush Adminstration threats gave me great respect for the union, as did their work during the election and the vital role union households play in the Democratic Party:
In the 2004 elections, households with union members accounted for 24 percent of the votes, and people from those households sided with Democratic candidate John Kerry by 5.8 million votes.
Unions ran nearly 260 phone banks and mailed out at least 30 million pieces of political literature in 16 states, a massive effort that primarily benefited Democrats.
So I'm 100% pro union. I hope that Andy Stern and his allies (which are many) are doing the right thing. If you're union, please share your insights as to what is happening with this split of the AFL-CIO.
Change to Win Members
*International Brotherhood of Teamsters
*Laborer's International Union of America
*Service Employee's International Union
*United Food and Commercial Workers International Union
*United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America