Thursday, March 3, 2005

Labor in Vegas

Some reports about what's happening this week at the AFL-CIO Executive Committee Meeting.

The NYT and the Chicago Tribune report on the failed attempt by some labor leaders to shift more resources into organizing:

Labor Leaders Reject Rival Plan to Shift More Money to Organizing (by Steven Greenhouse):

In a vote likely to create deeper tensions inside the labor movement, the leaders of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. rejected a proposal on Wednesday to cut in half individual unions' contributions to the federation to free up more money for organizing.

The 15-to-7 vote against the proposal put forward by five large unions came during the federation's winter meeting here, which was taking place under a threat by the A.F.L.-C.I.O.'s largest union, the Service Employees International Union, to leave the organization.

Dissidents lose key vote on AFL-CIO reforms (by Stephen Franklyn):

In the opening round of a growing power struggle among labor leaders, a group of dissident unions on Wednesday lost a key vote here, setting the stage for a showdown at the AFL-CIO's July convention in Chicago.

But the dissidents predict that their ranks will grow before the three-day July convention of the 13 million-member umbrella organization for the nation's 58 unions.

"We will try to convince people as we go to Chicago," said Teamsters Union President James P. Hoffa, speaking for the five unions that had failed to gain support for a sweeping reform of the 50-year-old labor organization.

Their setback came within the AFL-CIO's Executive Committee, where they lost 15-7. The AFL-CIO's much larger Executive Council was expected to vote later Wednesday on the same issue, and a similar result was anticipated.

Similar reports appear in the Washington Post (AFL-CIO's Sweeney Defeats Challenge From Dissidents) and the LA Times (Unions Reject Bid for Change at AFL-CIOUnions Reject Bid for Change at AFL-CIO)

Andy Stern responds these developments in the new SEIU blog.  Here is part of what he has to say:

The discussion of the leaders at the AFL-CIO Executive Council meeting in Las Vegas has begun, and my first impressions are formed.

In SEIU we have had some success (a lot compared to other unions) and still our leaders are seeking even greater changes to improve our chances to build something stronger for our members.  Our leaders are striving to do all that they can do to value and reward the work of all Americans.  This is the perspective I brought to Las Vegas, optimistic that other labor leaders would also want hopeful change.   

Sadly, many other unions believe we should just do more of the same and somehow we will get a different result.  Yesterday some said labor's decline is the fault of politicians or society or the system or...well, just about anything else except themselves.   

At SEIU we are confident we can win.  We believe others can too, but many leaders have little confidence that making major change will improve the lives of working Americans, so they want to do what is safe, familiar and failing.  It is clear, some have just given up. (Hope vs. Despair)

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