Labor - USA

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A ‘Truth Commission’ for AFL’s Foreign Policy

Jeff Crosby, Labor Notes, July 2005

Conflicting resolutions on the AFL-CIO’s relations with unions in other countries may spark real debate at the federation’s upcoming convention in Chicago. While overshadowed by other internal fireworks this summer, an open discussion on international affairs would mark a challenge to the AFL-CIO’s foreign policy.

The California state AFL-CIO is calling on the national federation to build ‘Unity and Trust’ with workers in other countries through a public review of past policy. Supporters want the AFL-CIO to repudiate its past involvement ... A ‘Truth Commission’

Urgent Action Needed on CAFTA!

Jobs with Justice, July 2005

A decade ago, the US Congress traded away our economic future with back-room deals and passed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Since then over 700,000 jobs have been lost in the US and 8 million more people in Mexico are living in poverty. The proposed Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) will extend this nightmare to 6 more nations.

In the Senate, CAFTA passed in a very close 54-45 vote on June 30th. WE HAVE NOT LOST! This was the closest Senate vote on a trade pact since NAFTA. The bill still has to pass the House, where opposition to CAFTA is much stronger. ... Urgent Action

The Split in the AFL-CIO

Interview: Roger Toussaint, President Transport Workers Union, New York Local 100 by National Union of Rail, Maritime & Transport Workers (RMT) - Bristol Rail Branch (0224), June 29, 2005

Roger Toussaint is President of Local 100 of the TWU, an industrial union organising some 38,000 workers of all grades and all job titles, across both New York bus and subway systems covered by the NY Metropolitan Transport Authority (MTA). As a guest of the RMT he addressed the Annual General Meeting in Exeter this week. He spoke to Alex Gordon. ... The Split

Disunity at big labor

Robert Kuttner, Boston Globe, June 22, 2005

THE AFL-CIO seems on the verge of splintering. Five of the most dynamic unions are threatening to leave the labor federation over differences of organizing strategies and financing.

The timing is ominous. Earnings of ordinary workers are lagging inflation. Jobs, whether skilled or unskilled, are insecure, as are health and pension benefits. The future, except for a fortunate elite, seems to be outsourcing, downsizing, and Wal-Mart. ... Disunity

Unions unhappy with AFL-CIO

Organizing needs more emphasis, new coalition says
George Raine, San Francisco Chronicle, June 16, 2005

Five dissident unions formed a coalition Wednesday to challenge the leadership of the AFL-CIO, criticizing the labor federation for not putting enough stress on recruiting workers.

But California's top labor leader said the state's union movement is focused on fending off what it perceives as attacks by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger - particularly his ballot initiatives in a Nov. 8 special election - and is not immersed in the drama of unrest in the AFL-CIO. ... Unions unhappy

Unions Form Coalition to Expand Labor

Jennifer C. Kerr, Associated Press, June 15, 2005

Washington - Unhappy with the shape of the labor movement under the existing AFL-CIO leadership, the heads of five of the federation's largest affiliates said Wednesday they formed a separate coalition to bolster membership rolls.

The Change to Win Coalition is comprised of unions that have made no secret of their disappointment with AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, who once was head of the Service Employees International Union, one of three unions threatening to bolt the venerable federation. ... Unions Form Coalition

"College Not Combat" Declaration endorsed by San Francisco Labor Council

US Labor Against the War, June 15, 2005

At its regular delegates' meeting on June 13, the San Francisco Labor Council (AFL-CIO) voted to endorse the "College Not Combat" Declaration of Policy for the City and County of San Francisco.

The Council will thus join with other labor and community organizations in the effort to place this Policy Declaration on the ballot in November. The Declaration affirms the opposition of the city to the presence of military recruiters in our schools, and supports the use of the city's resources to fund more education opportunities so that youth will not have to join the military to find money for school. ... "College Not Combat"

SEIU & the Labor Movement's Future

Greg King, SEIU Local 888, June 13, 2005

I was shocked to read the news story reprinted by portside about the SEIU board voting to authorize its leadership to decide if and when they'll be leaving the AFL-CIO. I think it would be a terrible mistake to thus weaken the labor movement at a time when, as Elly Leary's article from Monthly Review points out, trade unions represent a smaller percentage of the workforce now than at our previous lowest ebb, the 1920s. We need more strength and unity, not less. Wasn't one of the SEIU international's slogans "New Strength and Unity" or something of that sort? ... SEIU

Labor Federation Votes for Sweeney's Plan

Pete Yost, Associated Press, June 13, 2005

Washington - Although some of the biggest unions oppose them, the AFL-CIO's executive committee voted 17-7 Monday to support an organizing effort and political strategy backed by the labor federation's president, John Sweeney. The vote came amid an internal struggle over setting the course of organized labor.

Sweeney and his supporters have focused on mobilizing members for political activity over the course of his 10 years at the helm of the 13 million-member labor organization of 57 unions. ... Labor Federation

Five Unions to Create a Coalition on Growth

Steven Greenhouse, New York Times, June 13, 2005

Five labor unions that are highly critical of John J. Sweeney, the president of the AFL-CIO, are planning to announce this week that they are forming a coalition aimed at unionizing large numbers of workers, several union officials said yesterday.

Labor leaders said they were planning this move because they want to form an aggressively pro-growth coalition and because they believe the AFL-CIO is doing too little to organize nonunion workers.

This new coalition will be formed by the Service Employees International Union, the Teamsters, the laborers, the food and commercial workers and Unite Here, which represents hotel, restaurant and apparel workers, two union officials said. These officials insisted on anonymity because they feared some union leaders would be angry at them for disclosing the plan before it is announced Wednesday, after union leaders meet in Washington.

AFL-CIO Closer to Breaking Up

SEIU Board Authorizes Union Leaders to Quit Federation
Thomas B. Edsall, Washington Post, June 12, 2005

The Service Employees International Union yesterday took the first concrete step toward breaking up the AFL-CIO, the nation's central labor federation.

The SEIU executive board, at a meeting in San Francisco, authorized union leaders to quit the federation. As many as four other unions - the Teamsters, the United Food and Commercial Workers, Unite Here and the Laborers - could follow suit, pulling out 5 million of the AFL-CIO's 13 million members. ... AFL-CIO Closer

SEIU board authorizes leadership to bolt from AFL-CIO

Terence Chea, Associated Press, June 11, 2005

San Francisco - The board of the nation's largest labor union (sic) on Saturday gave its leadership the authority to break away from the AFL-CIO, citing a "fundamental and apparently irreconcilable disagreement" over how to rebuild the ailing labor movement.

Meeting in San Francisco, the executive board of the 1.8 million-member Service Employees International Union authorized its executive committee to decide if and when to "disaffiliate" from the AFL-CIO, though no decision has been made about whether SEIU will leave the federation ... SEIU board

Black Labor Calls for New 'Gary' Convention

National Gathering Planned on Broad Black Agenda
Black Commentator, June 2, 2005

“It’s time to go back to Gary,” William Lucy told 1,500 delegates to the 34th annual convention of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, last week. “It’s time to go back to Gary to talk among ourselves as trade unionists, as social activists, as political leaders, as academics about what it will take to move our communities forward.” ... Black Labor Calls

Discord at SEIU 888

Bruce T. Boccardy, SEIU Local 888, Labor Notes, June 2005

There is a growing dissent movement within SEIU Local 888. Since May 2000, when the SEIU unveiled its New Strength Unity program (NSU), expectations of many members have not been met. Local 888 members have discovered a peculiar set of policies and priorities that are cause for serious concern. Rumors of de-certification and re-affiliation have circulated through some of the units. ... Discord

Crisis in the US Labor Movement: The Roads Not Taken

Elly Leary, Monthly Review, June 2005

There is no disputing that these are tough times for the working class and its allies (all those oppressed by capitalism). The working class lacks a political party; social services to assist us with the inevitable problems we face have been eroded; and even our few precious institutions, especially unions, seem overwhelmed by the relentless attacks. ... Crisis

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