Labor - USA

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AFL-CIO chief re-elected as 2 unions exit

Tara Burghart, Associated Press, July 28, 2005

Chicago - The delegates who re-elected AFL-CIO President John Sweeney to a fourth term wore T-shirts that said "One Strong Voice for Worker's Rights" - but the labor group's unity remained in doubt after the defection of two key unions.

The Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union had sought Sweeney's ouster and dropped out earlier this week when they didn't get it. ... AFL-CIO chief

Union power: 8 companies they want now

Unions have problems organizing new members, but they still have eyes for some top employers.
Chris Isidore, CNN/Money, July 27, 2005

New York - The US union movement split apart this week over how to best organize workers at non-union companies.

Two of the largest unions left the AFL-CIO this week, and others are threatening to follow.

But even without the defections, the battle for new recruits is an uphill one.

While unions have sometimes found willing managements in the public sector, employer hostility to organizing campaigns is the rule in the private sector. ... Union power

"The Question of Working-Class Power"

Bill Fletcher, Jr. Speaks to the Canadian Auto Workers Conference, Toronto, Canada, 13 July 2005, Portside, July 27, 2005

Good morning. President Hargrove, leaders, and members of the Canadian Auto Workers, I wish to thank you very much for inviting me to speak with you today. This is a great honor and I have been looking forward to this opportunity.

If all goes according to some plans, by the end of July, the US trade union movement will fragment. These may sound like strange words, but when I say "according to some plans," I am quite serious. ... The Question

Delegates Praise Historic AFL-CIO Vote Calling for Rapid Withdrawal from Iraq

American Federation of Labor - Congress of Industrial Organizations, July 27, 2005

In a historic vote, delegates to the AFL-CIO's 25th Constitutional Convention in Chicago adopted Resolution 53, which “applauds the bravery and courage of our soldiers in Iraq and calls for their rapid return.” The resolution addresses the needs of returning veterans and union members and emphasizes the commitment of the AFL-CIO to support Iraqi trade unionists.

Iraqi trade unionists at the AFL-CIO Convention say conditions for forming unions in their nation are nearly as difficult now as under Saddam Hussein. ... Delegates Praise

Unions reinvented

The AFL-CIO has failed to recognize that times are changing and workers' lives are evolving.
That's why the labor movement must split.

Andrew L. Stern, SEIU, Los Angeles Times, July 26, 2005

Our world is undergoing the most profound economic transformation in history. Corporations are changing, technology is changing, the political climate is changing, and as a result, workers' lives are also changing. To fulfill their mission for working people in the 21st century, unions must change as well.

Fifty years ago, when the AFL-CIO was founded, one in three workers had a union, and unions were an essential vehicle for achieving the American dream. A union job was a ticket to the middle class, and union wages and benefits helped raise every American worker's standard of living. But today, with only one in 12 private-sector workers in a union, the labor movement is not strong enough to ensure that work is rewarded throughout the economy.

Women's Work

Female union members are gaining clout, but are still shut out of top labor positions
Kari Lydersen, In These Times, July 26, 2005

The lingering stereotype of a union member may still be the burly Teamster or longshoreman. But increasingly the face of organized labor today is female. The service industry is the fastest growing unionized sector, and many of these janitors, food service workers and the like are women, many of them women of color. In 2002, women made up 42 percent of union members, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared to 19 percent in 1962. ... Women's Work

AFL-CIO demands rapid withdrawal from Iraq

Barb Kucera, Workday Minnesota, July 26, 2005

Chicago - The AFL-CIO took a strong stand Tuesday to support US troops in Iraq and demand that the US government "bring them home rapidly."

The historic resolution, approved overwhelming at the labor federation's national convention, was the result of months of grass roots activity across the country. Numerous local and international unions, AFL-CIO state federations and local labor councils have adopted positions against the war. ... AFL-CIO demands

Two seasoned voices who won't be heard in Chicago

Andy Zipser, The Guild Reporter, July 26, 2005

Reviews of "Rebels, Reformers and Racketeers: How Insurgents Transformed the Labor Movement," by Herman Benson; and "My 60 Years as a Labor Activist: The Life Story of an Incorrigible Radical Who Never Stopped Fighting for Working People," by Harry Kelber.

It's a sobering thought to realize that as US union leaders are engaged in bureaucratic hair-splitting, some of the labor's freshest and most provocative thinking is coming from a couple of nonagenarians. Too bad they're not part of the action. ... Two seasoned voices

Labor's Big Split: Pain Before Gain

Harold Meyerson, Washington Post, July 26, 2005

Chicago - In the annals of labor leave-taking, it was neither as contentious as Mineworkers President John L. Lewis's departure from the 1935 AFL convention, when he decked the president of the Carpenters Union on his way out, nor as arrogantly dismissive as one of Lewis's later farewells, when he penned a note to AFL President William Green that read, simply: "Green - We disaffiliate - Lewis."

But yesterday's announcement by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters that they were quitting the AFL-CIO was no less stunning for its absence of theatricals. What we know is that the split - which is likely to grow as several other unions announce their own disaffiliations over the next couple of weeks - sunders a union movement that is already weaker than it has been since the 1920s. What we don't know is whether the new organization that the SEIU, the Teamsters and their allies will form in the coming months can and will do anything to bolster the power of America's indispensable, if enfeebled, labor movement.

Unions to quit AFL-CIO

William Glanz, The Washington Times, July 25, 2005

Chicago - Four unions yesterday stormed out of the AFL-CIO's convention in Chicago, boycotting the annual event hours before it began, and likely will announce today that they plan to leave the federation entirely.

The Teamsters, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and Unite Here said a lack of will to put sweeping reforms in place at the labor federation persuaded them to boycott the convention.

"We're not trying to divide the labor movement; we're trying to rebuild it," SEIU President Andrew Stern said. ... Unions to quit

Big Labor Rocked By Union Boycott of Its Convention

Josh Gerstein, New York Sun, July 25, 2005

Chicago - The American labor movement suffered its worst schism in more than half a decade yesterday, with four major unions announcing they will boycott the AFL-CIO convention over a dispute involving the leadership, direction, and finances of organized labor.

"We're not trying to divide the labor movement. We're trying to rebuild it," the president of the Service Employees International Union, Andrew Stern, told hundreds of members of the dissident unions at a rally here on the eve of the federation's convention. ... Big Labor Rocked

New organizing strategies

David Cohen, UE International Representative, & Judy Atkins, former President UE, District 2, Greenfield, Massachusetts, July 25, 2005

As you can see from the enclosed letter [Editor's Note: scroll down], there will be considerable attention paid to new methods of organizing workers at the Jobs with Justice convention in September.

We believe that the foundation for a mass upsurge in union organizing can be started now by building fighting-democratic unions in every workplace. These unions do not have to be bound by the rules of Section 9 of the NLRB, namely, that a union only exists when a majority of workers survive threats and intimidation by the employer and win the vote in an NLRB election.

Instead, these unions are guided by Section 7 of the NLRA that defines a union as any group of workers who come together to engage in concerted activity to protect themselves or to take part in negotiations with the employer. They are guided by the Constitutional rights of freedom of assembly, free speech and the abolition of slavery.

Labor Split a Mixed Bag

Union threats to leave AFL-CIO generate waves, new possibilities
David Moberg, In These Times, July 24, 2005

In the run-up to the AFL-CIO convention starting on July 25, observers have been avidly speculating about whether the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) or other unions in the Change to Win coalition challenging AFL-CIO President John Sweeney will leave the federation.

And if they do, what will that mean for the labor movement? ... Labor Split

AFL-CIO says, 'Bring the troops home!'

AFL-CIO Calls for Rapid Return of US Troops
US Labor Against the War, July 27, 2005

Chicago - In a major change of course, the AFL-CIO Convention delegates voted this afternoon in favor of a resolution calling for a "rapid" return of all US troops from Iraq.

Eighteen AFL-CIO state federations, central labor councils and unions had submitted resolutions to the convention calling for an immediate or rapid end to the occupation and return of the troops. The General Executive Council, meeting on the eve of the convention, submitted a resolution that borrowed heavily from elements of those eighteen but failed to clearly call for a prompt end to the occupation.

When it came time for the convention to act on the resolution Tuesday afternoon, Fred Mason, President of the Maryland/District of Columbia AFL-CIO and Co-Convenor of US Labor Against the War (USLAW), offered a "friendly" amendment that clarified and strengthened opposition to continued occupation of Iraq.

AFL-CIO Passes Resolutions in the Face of Defections

Brendan Coyne, NewStandard, July 27, 2005

At its annual convention yesterday, the nation's largest labor organization passed resolutions calling for a greater emphasis on organizing and a quick withdrawal of United States military forces from Iraq, according to news accounts and reports from members attending the event.

As part of a series of resolutions proposed by the Executive Council of the AFL-CIO, delegates to this week's convention approved the two resolutions Tuesday, and called for an emergency meeting to discuss the departure of two of the Federation's largest unions. ... AFL-CIO Passes

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