Monday, May 22, 2006

AFL-C ya later

That pun in the title belongs to my sister, who's one of the flying purple people eaters.

Anyway, the Laborers (LIUNA) have broken from the AFL-CIO, which means 700,000 fewer members. They had been straddling, retaining membership in both the AFL and the Change to Win coalition, but no longer.

Now, this is good for a number of reasons. It diminishes the degree to which service sector unions dominate Change to Win, by adding construction workers to the farmworkers (UFW), truckdrivers (Teamsters), and carpenters that had already joined.

By freeing the LIUNA from AFL-CIO per capita dues, it allows the Laborers to fully make good on their commitment to prioritize organizing. They've been moving in that direction for a while, and growing fast, so now they will have a chance to put more ambitious programs into place.

Finally, it shows that the AFL-CIO's scare tactics don't work. Earlier this year, after the United Farm Workers disassociated, AFL president John Sweeney formally barred UFW locals from participation in labor councils. Apart from being bizarre, unfair, and possibly racist, a lot of folks speculated that the AFL was trying to send a message to other unions (particularly the Laborers and others in the building trades) about the consequences of disassociating. So much for that.

Quick Note: As part of the AFL/CtW agreement on political cooperation, the UFW was allowed back into the labor maybe that had something to do with this, but I doubt it. The LIUNA has been making noise about leaving for a while, and even set up their own building trades council separate from the AFL. Maybe they were waiting to see if the two federations would sort out their differences on the 06 election cycle, or maybe they just finally got it together.

No comments: