Monday, July 25, 2005

workplace organizing, not electoral politics

marjorie says...

Jonathan Tasini’s first hand report from the Teamsters and SEIU press conference announcing their “disaffiliation” from the AFL-CIO quotes Jimmy Hoffa saying: “The Teamsters union spends over $10 million in per capita to the AFL-CIO. We had a simple proposition. We want $5 million rebated to us to invest and make sure that we can organize in our core industries. They said no. Their idea is to keep throwing money at politicians..."

Here are excerpts from the statement announcing the formation of the Change to Win Coalition:

“The purpose of the Change to Win Coalition is to marshal the collective strength of our unions to develop and implement strategies to organize the tens of millions of workers in the private sector who are desperate for a voice on the job and in their community.

“Just as the Committees for Industrial Organization was formed in the 1930s when the AFL would not embrace the kinds of structural, resource allocation, and jurisdictional changes that were necessary to organize the new mass production industries of the time, the Change to Win Coalition has formed at a time when new strategies and structures are required to organize the growing non-union section of our private sector economy.

“We welcome any other labor organization who shares our commitment to growth into our Coalition. In the Constitution and Bylaws we adopted today, we pledged mutual support and solidarity, no raiding, and no retaliation for those who may choose to leave the AFL-CIO. We seek to change the face not only of what organized labor does, but how it does it.

“The world is nearly unrecognizable from what it was a generation ago. The stakes could not be higher. If the labor movement doesn’t adopt dramatic changes today to cope with the new economy it will find itself marginalized into oblivion. We come together today to prevent that.”

Signed by:

Terence O’Sullivan, President, Laborers’ International Union of North America
James P. Hoffa, President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters
John W. Wilhelm, President/Hospitality Industry, UNITE-HERE
Joseph Hansen, President, United Food and Commercial Workers Union
Bruce Raynor, President UNITE-HERE
Andrew Stern, President, Service Employees International Union

This is a call to organize, and it signifies an understanding on the part of certain sectors of the labor movement that organizing has fallen by the wayside in favor of politics. John Sweeney has paid lip-service to the need for renewed efforts to organize, but the AFL-CIO has done little to make it a reality. In truth, this move should come as no surprise. Labor exists, after all, and will naturally seek avenues for greater power. For too long, the AFL-CIO has sought this power through politics - without results. In fact, labor has been literally trammeled into the ground by republicans. New approaches are needed, and they are needed now. Not for the politics of the democrats, but for the politics of the workplace and the continued existence of a middle class.