- Pennsylvania Among 'Terrible 10' Most Regressive Tax States
- February 4 Non-Partisan Training: HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013: HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Republican Governors Opt-In to Medicaid Expansion
- The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
- Ask Allyson Schwartz to run for Governor
- Mind the gap: Opting Out of Medicaid Expansion Leaves Low-income Families Behind
- Jan. 14 Workshop:HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013; HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Seth Williams on Guns, Jasmine Rivera on School Closures @PFC Meetup Wednesday
- PA Revenue Strong Midway Through Year; Tax Cut Could Have Big Impact
- What to Make of the Fiscal Cliff Deal?
Unions to Boycott AFL-CIO Convention
Four of the country's largest labor unions announced on Sunday that they plan to boycott the AFL-CIO convention, which begins today in Chicago. The conflict is one of the biggest in labor's history, stemming from differing opinions on the best strategy for rebuilding the strength of organized labor. The split will have broad implications for both local and national politics.
Formed in 1955 as a merger between the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations, the AFL-CIO represents over 13 million workers. Locally, the Philadelphia AFL-CIO has 120 affiliates who represent a combined total of over 100,000 workers. The unions who appear ready to pull out include the Service Employee International Union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, United Food and Commercial Workers, and UNITE-HERE. Together, these unions represent nearly 40% of the total AFL-CIO membership.
The issues are complicated, but they center around charges from the dissident unions that too little resources are being spent on organizing new workers into unions. Along the same lines, SEIU believes that many small locals should be merged into larger organizations with more resources. According to SEIU, corporate power has become too concentrated for small unions to fight effectively. A local of 5,000 workers simply isn't powerful enough to take on a global company. Therefore, they believe many smaller unions should be merged into larger ones. In response, critics like the Communication Workers of America have derided SEIU merger proposals as anti-democratic.
Although all four unions are very powerful in many cities and certainly on the national level, none of them have a particularly strong presence locally. However, the impact of the split can already been seen and I believe it has the possibility to bring major changes to the Philadelphia labor movement.
First of all, SEIU has already begun to beef up their Philadelphia operation. Local 36, which primarily represents building service workers, has become District 36 of Local 32BJ. What does that actually mean? Local 32BJ is one of the most powerful union locals in the country with over 75,000 members. There will be an infusion of resources, both money and staff, for SEIU in Philadelphia. I wouldn't be surprised if we see multiple organizing campaigns coming out of SEIU in the next year or so.