Sunday, March 8, 2009
Stephen Greenhouse (NY Times) has an article on the attempts to rejoin the AFL-CIO and the Change To Win unions. He puts the chance of success at 50-50:
The presidents of 12 large unions have held talks since January, when they announced an effort to reunify organized labor, which split in 2005 when seven unions quit the A.F.L.-C.I.O. According to several officials at last week’s A.F.L.-C.I.O. winter meeting here, union presidents have debated what the focus of a new federation should be, how much each union would pay in dues and what the leadership structure would be — whether there would be a strong, long-term president or a two-year rotating presidency. . . . David E. Bonior, a former House Democratic whip, is coordinating the talks, with April 15 as the goal for an agreement. . . .
Negotiators said there was agreement that a unified federation should focus on politics, public policy and legislative work. Many also agree that the federation should have an arm, which unions could join voluntarily, that helps unions to organize more workers. . . .
Officials from several breakaway unions said they would not want to join the A.F.L.-C.I.O., but rather a new, more dynamic federation that replaces it. But some A.F.L.-C.I.O. leaders, angry about the schism, are in no mood to create a new federation or make other changes sought by Mr. Stern or other Change to Win leaders. . . .
The larger unions want to create a powerful executive committee, and one divisive issue is how much power medium-size and small unions would have. The small unions oppose demands that they be forced to merge into larger unions.
Also being debated is whether to create a mechanism to nudge past-their-prime union presidents to retire so unions are not stuck with tired, uninspired leaders. One negotiator talked of creating an advisory “Labor House of Lords” to encourage older union presidents to step aside.
We'll see what happens. Either way, you would think that the push for some new strategies would win the day, given the current union density numbers. But you never know.