There is a huge battle going on in the world of labor these days, and if you don’t know anything about it — well, you should. Despite the fact that many of us have no say in how the battle will end, it could still be a history-making turn of events. The future of the labor movement, the welfare of American workers, and, by extension, whether or not progressives have a strong ally in unions all hangs in the balance.
Yesterday, Andy Stern had some fighting words on his blog, reflective of the Executive Council (of the AFL-CIO) meeting in Las Vegas last week, where Stern’s proposals were shot down. A brief primer on the skirmish:
The two camps are:
• The New Unity Partnership (led by Andy Stern, president of SEIU and James Hoffa of the Teamsters) an alliance among several unions that has endorsed dramatic changes to the structure, method and organization of the AFL-CIO and its member unions. Bottomline is their desire to devote more money (from a 50% dues rebate) to on-the-ground organizing.
• John Sweeney, the 10-year president of the AFL-CIO, and many of the industrial unions, who recognize that changes need to be made, but seek to emphasize increased politicization of unions – boosting expenditures on politics and lobbying, rather than for organizing. Ironically, Sweeney himself ran as a reformer as then-president of SEIU. Though President Sweeney has guided labor to carry more political clout over the past decade, the percentage of workers in unions has fallen to 12.5% from almost 16% in 1994. Read more