July 24, 2005

Major rupture in AFL-CIO may lead to more defections

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 unions, representing about one-third of the AFL-CIO's 13 million members, planned to announce the decision Sunday afternoon, a day before the convention opens, according to three labor officials familiar with the failed negotiations to avoid the walkout.

None of the four dissident unions planned to formally severe ties from the AFL-CIO on Sunday, officials said, but they are now poised to do so at a later date.

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.

Joining him in the boycott will be the Teamsters, United Food and Commercial Workers and UNITE HERE, a group of textile and hotel workers, according to the labor officials.

The four unions already had formed the Change to Win Coalition to pressure AFL-CIO President John Sweeney to undertake major changes to the federation.

Two other unions that are part of the dissident coalition had not planned to leave the Chicago convention: the Laborers International Union of North America and the United Farm Workers.

The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, a member of the coalition, left the AFL-CIO in 2002.
Only time will tell if this is good news for the future of labor in America, but at first glance, it doesn't look good. When labor is under perhaps the most intense effort ever mounted to literally make them irrelevant, I fail to see how refusing to stay united is a step in the right direction. One would think that standing together against this onslaught would be the only rational course.

**Note: This morning C-Span's "Washington Journal" is asking callers "Do Unions Matter?" This is pretty stark evidence that things have gotten pretty bad. They're not asking whether Unions are strong, they're not asking if Unions are good or bad, they're asking whether they even matter, in other words, whether they even have a reason to exist. For that question to be asked is not a good sign. And many callers are arguing that they don't matter at all.

14 Comments:

At 7/24/2005 4:44 PM, Blogger diehard said...

I'm afraid the unions are imploding while being attacked by the Bush adminisrtation.
Without the union movement America will collapse!

 
At 7/24/2005 5:03 PM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

Absolute power. That's what Bush has and this is surely one more symptom of the fact that the laws in the land are groaning over to favor the wealthy and the corporate interests.

The move appears desperate and it saddens me to think that the leadership could not come to a better outcome than to split up. As in most "divorce actions" there are no real winners.

 
At 7/24/2005 7:29 PM, Blogger Dave said...

hey diehard

how is Bush attacking the unions. This has come about becuase of greedy union bosses. d

 
At 7/24/2005 8:08 PM, Blogger politicalwind said...

Dave, we agree on something; there are greedy union bosses just like there are greedy corporate bosses.
That's why I'm a big fan of what the late Robert F. Kennedy did, which was go after corruption in the labor movement. He went after the top bosses who were skimming millions from the rank-and-file workers.

But that's not the issue here. The issue is that the labor movement, stung by recent campaign losses, is looking for new leadership. They are more powerful as a united group, as Diehard so eloquently stated, and they should stick together to promote working men and women.

They need to cut out the big egos in big labor. I'm a Bobby Kennedy Democrat. I'm for clean labor unions whose sole purpose is to protect the little guy.

 
At 7/24/2005 8:58 PM, Blogger politicalwind said...

I also agree that the group smiling the most about all of this disarray in the labor movement must be Karl Rove and President Bush. United, Democrats and Independents can win back the White House. But divided our party will have a much tougher time in 2006 and 2008 and beyond.

Labor needs to clear cut the big egos and top-heavy management and salaries and realize that there is much, much more that they agree upon than not.

 
At 7/25/2005 6:30 AM, Blogger diehard said...

I don't disagree Dave. The union bosses these days are mostly lawyers who have not come up through the ranks.
And the middle management of many unions are how some US companies used to be.
Full of lazy overpaid people who have theirs and really don't care about their union brothers and sisters.
But George Bush is no friend to labor. And doesn't pretend to be.
But thats O.K.
I'd rather see a republican like him than one that claims to be a"moderate" like Schwarcenager.
He makes up for all of his blathering about being pro-choice and o.k with gay issues by saying the unions are the ruination of our country and the envoirmental laws are to strict.
Which are the real issues that republicans care about, cheap labor[illegals keep em coming] and rolling back EPA standards. The family values stuff is to get people that dont pay any attention to whats going on until late October of a presidential election and then quit paying attention the 2nd week in November scared so they will vote republican.

 
At 7/25/2005 7:05 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Diehard says: "Which are the real issues that republicans care about, cheap labor[illegals keep em coming] and rolling back EPA standards. The family values stuff is to get people that dont pay any attention to whats going on until late October of a presidential election and then quit paying attention the 2nd week in November scared so they will vote republican."

Truer words were never spoken. Amen brother Diehard!

 
At 7/26/2005 11:41 AM, Blogger diehard said...

Thanks Dope
But let me expound on what the Democrats say they are about too.
The low voter turnout in the minority groups are not suprizing.
Why should the voters be any different than the politicians they are voting for?
These groups are wanting to know whats in it for them or if anybody cares about poor people.
The Democrat party can no longer apologize for unions and minorities it needs to embrace and stand-up for both.
Bill Clinton should have taken more draconian measures with our national parks to preserve them.
Closing off Yellowstone for a few years from all the tourists would be a good start.
now Bush will allow snowmobiles to ravage the park in the winter months and upset hibrenation and wintering habits of rare and endangered animals.
Lastly everone on earth cannot live in the United States. We should be exporting our knowledge of capitalisim to countries the need to improve their standard of living.
We sit back and let the most corrupt goverment in the world at our southern border. And attack a country a half a world away to tell them how their country needs to be run!

 
At 7/26/2005 1:59 PM, Blogger politicalwind said...

Here's an exclusive. A handful of QC Democrats met Senator Joe Biden last night during a reception. He spoke clearly and forcefully about the mess in Iraq.
Clearly, with his strong national security background and high name ID he ends up on the short list of 2008 presidential candidates.

Biden didn't announce for President; he's exploring a candidacy and chose Illinois as one of his first stops.

Thought your thoughtful readers would be interested in this Illinois news.

 
At 7/26/2005 4:02 PM, Blogger DownLeft said...

Unity doesn't help much if you're unified in doing little and going nowhere. I can at least dream that this will be something marginally like the CIO splitting from the AFL and going on to organize the industrial sector. The service economy must be organized if unions are going to remain relevant today and so far the AFL-CIO has only made sporatic, paltry efforts at doing that.

 
At 7/26/2005 6:38 PM, Blogger diehard said...

Either that or we can stop electing politicians both Republican and Democrat that sell us, the American Worker down the road!

 
At 7/26/2005 7:10 PM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

Yes Diehard, look in your own backyard for a few of those....

 
At 7/27/2005 10:50 AM, Blogger diehard said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 7/31/2005 8:53 PM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

What's up with these folks that yank their comments? No guts no glory.

 

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