July 25, 2005

CHANGE TO WHINE (via Robert Schwartz):

Teamsters, SEIU Bolt From AFL-CIO: Unions Are Part Of 'Change To Win Coalition' (NBC5, July 25, 2005)

It's a double jolt for organized labor.The Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union have decided to bolt the AFL-CIO.Teamsters' president James Hoffa said the AFL-CIO is taking an "opposite approach" to what's needed to strengthen the labor movement -- and that's what's prompted his organization to leave. And the Service Employees International Union -- the AFL-CIO's largest affiliate -- said it was leaving because the umbrella organization isn't changing with the times.The unions earlier announced they were boycotting the federation's convention that began Monday in Chicago, a step that was widely considered to be a precursor to leaving the federation. Two other unions -- the United Food and Commercial Workers and a group of textile and hotel workers -- also joined the boycott, a possible sign they may be the next to leave. [...]

[O]ther attendees said larger forces are swaying popular opinion."I do not believe that anybody in the AFL or any other organized labor group is at fault," said Bill Brumfield, who supports the AFL-CIO leadership. "The conservatism of the country has driven a wedge between workers and organized labor."

It'd be nice if the Right could take all the credit, but unions brought most of it on themselves in the 70s, with their strikes and absurd wage demands.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 25, 2005 5:19 PM

The wedge has to to with more than just wage demands. Most of organized labor has thought of itself as part of a grand "progressive" coalition. Real progress has made most components of that coalition actually tools of reaction.

Posted by: Lou Gots at July 25, 2005 6:13 PM

As for the Teamsters, it was down hill after Carter's deregulation of Trucking Companies.

Posted by: h-man at July 25, 2005 7:44 PM

They're going the way of the IWW;Joe Haywood's Wobblies; how does dividing themselves do them
any good; areJames Hoffa and Andy Stern, rovian

Posted by: narciso at July 25, 2005 8:53 PM

The AFL-CIO has abandoned workers' rights as an issue, choosing instead to join the Deaniac trendnoids. This is a positive development.

Posted by: bart at July 25, 2005 9:13 PM

The rank and file are bolting because the AFL-CIO has become obsessed with politics: Bush-bashing, stopping Social Security reform, same-sex benefits, and a bunch of other lefty issues. While ignoring organizing non-union shops, improving working conditions, and other stuff of concern to the regular working Joe.

Posted by: Gideon at July 25, 2005 9:32 PM

Modern times caught up to the unions in the 1970s. The increasing ease of manufaturing and transporting goods from overseas to the U.S. ended the 40-year period after the Wagner Act when the country was basically a closed shop, where moving south was the only option for unionized companies from the Northeast or Midwest. Once Japan started flooding the market was lower prices and more reliable cars and electronics, the downhill spiral really took hold, because the unions didn't know they had gone from a position of strength to one of weakness.

Posted by: John at July 25, 2005 9:48 PM

"As for the Teamsters, it was down hill "

After Jimmy Hoffa joined the choir angelic.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at July 25, 2005 10:29 PM

This is the first sighting of the rats leaving the sinking ship. Why should they spend money on the Democrats when the Ds can't do anything for them.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at July 25, 2005 10:34 PM

The rebel union leaders have disagreed with Sweeney's management direction, particularly his emphasis on political lobbying. Apparently they think they could get better results through grass roots efforts to grow the membership. The fact is, they can't. Sweeney has been following the only tack that allowed them any results. But as bart pointed out, they weren't results that mattered to their members.

Sweeney has been pursuing power for power's sake. Unions have become the tools of their leadership cadres, following the institutional imperative to preserve and grow the institution.

Most left wing interest groups are the same: the NAACP no longer cares about the interests of black people, it is a shakedown racket.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at July 26, 2005 10:22 AM