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UPDATED DAILY -- by 9 a.m. Monday-Friday

Links to press stories are functional at the date of posting.  In some cases, free registration is required at newspapers' sites.  Links sometimes "expire" when the source would like to begin charging for old news. WSLC Reports Today  links to all stories of interest to organized labor; some positive, some negative. The intention is to inform. The creation of a link does not constitute an endorsement of that story's content.


 

FRIDAY, JULY 29 ■  UFCW out -- First the Working Life blog, then the Associated Press and now the UFCW itself have confirmed that the national leaders of the United Food and Commercial Workers this morning voted to disaffiliate from the AFL-CIO effective immediately. 

AFL-CIO news: ■  Today from Bloomberg -- Labor split a "failed power grab," says Sweeney -- "They didn't have the support of the majority, so they picked up their marbles and they left," he says.
■ 
In today's NY Times -- Sweeney says split hurt labor -- "With some of the (dissident) unions, we had really narrowed the gap between our differences," Sweeney said, "and it's fair say to say that we were very close. But I think some of the affiliates had already made up their minds to leave, even while they were participating in the negotiations."
■  In yesterday's Columbian -- What solidarity? (editorial) -- The AFL-CIO split means a crippling blow for the labor movement, and a severe fracturing of unions, which ironically have operated, voted and struck on a theme of solidarity. Left unanswered for now is whether unionism will survive.
■  In today's Washington Post -- Time to stem labor's losses (Dionne column) -- This split might at least remind liberals and Democrats of how much they have depended on unions. Democrats have treated labor as a cross between an ATM and a temp service. For liberals, the Sweeney-Stern confrontation underscores the urgency of standing up for labor at its moment of crisis.
■  Today at BusinessWeek online -- So long, AFL-CIO. Now what? -- The unions that split from the AFL-CIO will focus on service jobs that can't easily be shipped overseas.
■  In today's Oregonian -- In my opinion (op-ed by Oregon AFL-CIO President Tim Nesbitt) -- We may have two houses of labor now, but we are still one union movement.

Political news■  In today's News Tribune -- $3.5 billion in federal money to fix state's roads
■  In today's Seattle Times -- Congress pledges $220 million for viaduct -- But lawmakers warned the money could disappear if voters approve the anti-gas-tax Initiative 912 this fall.
■  In today's Kitsap Sun -- Congress nears OK of Bremerton tunnel's $16.8 million
■  In today's Seattle P-I -- Gas tax repeal: Why I-912 wins (editorial) -- Defending the tax increase will demand a tough, unconventional campaign that makes it dramatically clear to voters throughout the state just how much they'll lose to gain a few pennies per gallon.
■  In
today's Seattle P-I -- Gregoire needs to turn I-912 into a race (Connelly column)
■  In the Seattle Weekly -- Dis-tort reform -- I-330 would cap monetary awards for malpractice suits. I-336 would crack down on serially inept doctors. Only one might solve an actual problem.
■  In today's Olympian -- State ethics panel: Sen. Tim Sheldon's dual roles aren't in conflict
■  In today's Spokesman-Review -- West urges State Supreme Court to toss recall petition

Local news: ■  In today's Seattle P-I -- United flight attendants protest outside SeaTac, 20 airports
■  In today's Tri-City Herald -- Insurance benefits for Hanford retirees reduced
■  In today’s Everett Herald -- Snohomish County road crews pile up overtime by the ton
■  In today’s Spokesman-Review -- Drastic cuts may cost city jobs, mental health care

CAFTA news:  ■  In today's NY Times -- Pleas and promises by GOP as CAFTA wins by 2 votes
■  Yesterday at the Working Life blog -- Punish the CAFTA 15 -- Labor must punish the 15 so-called Democrats who voted for the CAFTA -- and punish them hard. (They include Rep. Norm Dicks.)
■  In today's NY Times -- Applauding the CAFTA 15 (editorial) -- The Democrats who voted for CAFTA deserve respect for their independence and good judgment. (They include Rep. Norm Dicks.)
■  In today's LA Times -- Central American leaders praise passage of CAFTA -- But the region's labor unions and some agricultural interests warned of job losses and other dire effects.
■  Today from AP -- Frustration grows as global trade negotiations stall in Geneva

National news:  ■  In today's Washington Post -- Bush plan would raise pension contributions
■  In today's NY Times -- French family values (Krugman column) -- Whatever else you may say about French economic policies, they seem extremely supportive of the family as an institution.


 

THURSDAY, JULY 28 ■  CAFTA passes House -- In a contentious hour-long floor vote, the House approves the trade deal, 217-215. Voting YES: Reps. Norm Dicks (one of only 15 House Democrats support CAFTA) and GOP Reps. Dave Reichert, Cathy McMorris and "Doc" Hastings. Voting NO: Democratic Reps. Brian Baird, Jay Inslee, Rick Larsen, Jim McDermott and Adam Smith.  Both Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell previously voted in favor of CAFTA.
■  In today’s NY Times -- House OKs CAFTA -- The vote stalled as Republicans jockeyed over who would be allowed to vote "no" and save face back home. The final count came after midnight.
■  In today's Seattle Times -- CAFTA position put Rep. Inslee in an awkward spot
■  In today's Seattle Times -- Global trade, local trade-offs (op-ed by SPEEA's Stan Sorscher) -- Any economic policy must serve the overall goal of broad-based well-being to deserve our support.
■  In today’s Seattle P-I -- CAFTA not just about free trade -- With CAFTA's passage, Bush's buddies at Harken Energy can file a planned lawsuit demanding $58 billion from Costa Rica (whose entire GDP is only $37 billion) for hypothetical future lost profits, if Harken is not allowed to drill offshore in Costa Rica's protected Talamanca region -- one of the planet's richest marine ecosystems.

Also today■  New UFW contract talks scheduled; email Gallo TODAY!

AFL-CIO news: ■  Today at the Working Life blog -- Sweeney gets tough on state fed, CLC issue -- He has issued a letter to all principal officers of state federations and CLCs. It’s darn tough and gives a sense the federation and the disaffiliated unions are headed for confrontations across the nation.
In today's Washington Post -- AFL-CIO President John Sweeney re-elected -- AFL-CIO leader won a fourth term, as the labor federation made hurried preparations to counter raiding wars with major unions that left the organization earlier this week.
■  Today from Bloomberg -- AFL-CIO to avoid partisan politics; delegates pledge different approach
■  In today's Seattle P-I -- Organizing labor: It all starts at the grass roots (Virgin column) -- The pressure now shifts to Change to Win's unions. After all, their leaders argue that the AFL-CIO doesn't know how to recruit members. Now they get to prove, one campaign at a time, that they do.

Local news: ■  In today’s News Tribune -- Boeing boosts 2006 forecast, raises delivery target to 395
■  In today’s Everett Herald -- The buzz is back at Boeing; county job market sees ripple effect
■  In today's Olympian -- New DSHS chief urges tougher laws, smaller caseloads
■  In today's Seattle Times -- Outside oversight urged at King County Elections; Sims likes idea
■  In today’s Everett Herald -- Sims reaffirms decision on Brightwater site
■  In today's News Tribune -- Alaska mechanics (AMFA) veto contract, joining flight attendants, pilots
In today's Everett Herald --
Good guys can still win in the other Washington (editorial) -- Score one for the good guys, thanks to the legislative skill of Sen. Maria Cantwell and the persistence of the Snohomish PUD, on stopping Enron's shameless attempt to squeeze $122 million more from us.
■  In today's Everett Herald -- Fircrest's program does integration (letter to the editor)
■  In today's Spokesman-Review -- Spokane council may take over investigation of West
■  In today's Spokesman-Review -- West recall would take separate election

National news:  ■  Today from AP -- Ag companies sued for alleged RICO violations -- Idaho county alleges the businesses are engaged in an "illegal immigrant hiring scheme," and that the undocumented workers use county resources such as indigent medical care, jails and schools. The lawsuit marks the first time a government entity has used the racketeering law, designed to target the mafia, to demand damages from businesses for the costs of illegal workers.
■  In today's Washington Post -- Reforming government pay (editorial) -- At first sight, Bush's proposal to reform civil servant pay scales appears common-sensical. But before you can link salary to performance, performance must be defined. This isn't easy because government "output" is not easily measured. Therefore, a gradual piecemeal approach is better than an ambitious sweep.
■  In today's LA Times -- After three-week strike, janitors at Boeing, Northrop plants agree to pact
■  In today's SF Chronicle -- Guild approves Chronicle contract; "terrible" deal in immediate effect
■  In today's NY Times -- Oil and blood (Herbert column) -- The Bush administration has no plans to bring American troops home from this misguided war.


 

WEDNESDAY, JULY 27 ■  Radio discussion tonight on labor's future in Washington

AFL-CIO news:  ■  At AFLCIO.org -- Historic AFL-CIO vote calls for rapid withdrawal from Iraq
■  In today's NY Times -- Labor debates the future of a fractured labor movement -- The two giant unions that quit the AFL-CIO say their exodus will help revive the labor movement. But Greg Devereux, one of the 800 delegates at the union convention here, was not buying it. " A lot of people are still stunned and angry about it," Mr. Devereux, a Washington State delegate from AFSCME, said Tuesday. "A lot of people view it as destructive and selfish."
■  In today's Washington Post -- Republicans see opportunity in labor rift -- "This cuts the legs out from one of their main GOTV (get-out-the-vote) groups," a Republican Party official said with undisguised pleasure. Conservative groups are announcing plans to step in to try to further weaken the union movement. The National Right to Work Foundation has announced plans to raise $2 million for "free legal assistance" to workers seeking to end their union membership.
■ 
Today from AP -- AFL-CIO votes to push political, union organizing
■  In today's Washington Post -- Labor split centers on failure to organize workers
■ 
In today's NY Times -- Solidarity in pieces (editorial) -- Solving the problems that bedevil the AFL-CIO is far more important than saving the federation.
■  In today's Spokesman-Review -- It's time for labor reorganization (Molly Ivins column)
■  In today's SF Chronicle --
Trying times for unions nationally, locally -- As the AFL-CIO engages a battle over the philosophical direction of the nation's union movement, organized labor in California is more concerned with Gov. Schwarzenegger and his "paycheck deception" initiative.

CAFTA news: ■  Today from AP -- McMorris says she'll support CAFTA; NW Republicans favor pact
■  Today from AP --
Bush makes rare Capitol Hill appearance to lobby Republicans on CAFTA
■  In today's NY Times -- Small trade pact becomes big political deal -- It is a small trade agreement, affecting a volume of American exports about equal to those from New Jersey. But Bush and his opponents see CAFTA as a critical battle in their broader agendas on globalization.
■ 
In today's Washington Post -- CAFTA's upshot more political than economic (news analysis)

Local news■  Today from AP -- Aerospace unions lose ground; concessions made, workers leery
■  Today from AP -- Onex deal unlikely elsewhere -- Labor concessions won in its purchase of Boeing's commercial aircraft operations in Wichita are not expected to affect future contracts with aircraft workers in Seattle and elsewhere, industry observers said.
■  Today from AP -- Boeing profit dips, but outlook for 2005 raised
■  Today from Bloomberg -- Boeing poised for bigger sales gain than Airbus
■ 
In today's Spokesman-Review -- Amid Spokane budget crunch, West orders hiring freeze for city
■  In today's Seattle Times -- Airport may not get light rail; Port puts $580M in SeaTac work on hold
■  In today’s Seattle P-I -- State's child poverty rate falls, but "disconnected youths" struggling
■  In today's Oregonian -- Vancouver Reps. Fromhold, Moeller honored for health care efforts
■  In yesterday's Columbian -- Legislature's "emergency" shenanigans need to stop (Brunell column)

National news:  ■  In today’s Seattle Times -- Energy work pays off for PUD -- It looks like Congress'  energy bill will includes a provision that will save ratepayers in Washington from paying hundreds of millions in contract-termination fees to Enron. It's also a significant victory for Sen. Maria Cantwell, who won a battle to put the Enron provision in the Senate version of the energy bill.
■  In today's
SF Chronicle -- Senate panel debates plans for immigrant workers
■  In today's
Washington Post -- Pension bill clears Senate panel; airlines would get a break


 

TUESDAY, JULY 26 ■  SEIU, IBT quit AFL-CIO and the WSLC -- President Bender says the state labor council "remains committed to continuing its proud tradition of success"... SEIU and the Teamsters seek to lay blame for state and local disaffiliations at Sweeney's feet.

Local AFL-CIO news■  In today's Seattle P-I -- State's unions confront need for change
■  Today from AP -- State unions reflect labor rift -- Local Teamster official: "Washington, it's really a shining star in many ways. If you look at how unions operate here, we work really well together."
■  In today's News Tribune -- Union rift spurs competition -- Pierce County CLC executive says SEIU and Teamsters account for about one quarter of that organization's annual budget.
■  In today's Seattle Times -- State effect uncertain from split of AFL-CIO
■  In today’s Salem S-J -- AFL-CIO defection expected to have big impact in nation, less in Oregon

National AFL-CIO news: ■  In today's Washington Post -- Two top unions split from AFL-CIO -- Labor leaders in Chicago widely expect the UFCW and UNITE HERE to join the breakup. Together, the four unions represent nearly one-third of the AFL-CIO's 13 million members.
■  At AFLCIO.org -- Taking first steps toward a new labor movement 
■  In today's Seattle Times -- Labor split could hurt Democrats' campaigns (from wire services)
■  In today’s NY Times -- Ambitions are fueling labor split (news analysis)
■  In today's LA Times -- AFL-CIO split puts labor's path in doubt -- In California, a unified front is expected to hold in opposition to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's attacks on unions.
■  In today's Washington Post -- Labor's big split: Pain before gain (Meyerson column) -- For now, it's a lot easier to see the damage than it is to foresee the gain... No one can say whether the birth of this new labor movement will lead to a desperately needed reversal in fortune for America's workers. Some stars, after all, burn most brightly just before they altogether flicker out.
■  Get the latest insider's view from the AFL-CIO Convention at the Working Life blog.

Local news■  In today’s Seattle Times -- Union at Swedish (SEIU) rejects benefit cuts
■  In the Seattle Times -- Boeing scores 30-jet order for 737-800s with fast-growing Brazilian carrier
■  In today’s Yakima H-R -- Union (PSE) files grievance against Goldendale School District
■  In today’s Everett Herald -- Rep. John McCoy broke no ethics rules in backing Quil Ceda Village
■  In today’s Spokesman-Review -- Proposed recall of Mayor Jim West goes to court Aug. 24

National news:  ■  In today's NY Times -- Bush making deals for CAFTA support -- With promises of trade protections for textile companies, Bush has coaxed six Republican lawmakers to vote for CAFTA. (But he's not likely to keep those promises. Public Citizen points out the White House reneged on 80% of the 90 deals made in the past 12 years to secure votes for trade legislation.)
■  In today's Washington Post -- The stakes in CAFTA (editorial) -- The defeat of CAFTA would help not anti-poverty movements (in South America) but anti-American demagogues.


 

MONDAY, JULY 25 ■  URGENT: National Call-in Day to oppose CAFTA 
Many of you have already contacted your U.S. Representatives to let them know you oppose  CAFTA -- thank you!  But President Bush is lobbying hard to get it passed this week. Please call one more time toll-free at 1-800-718-1008. Leave a message for your Representative: “I strongly urge you to oppose CAFTA. CAFTA is based on the failed NAFTA and will expand NAFTA’s legacy of lost jobs, low wages and trampled workers’ rights.” Learn more.
■  Today from AP -- Bush makes final push for CAFTA
■  Today from BusinessWeek -- Doubtful deals driving CAFTA -- With the House vote's outcome still in doubt, the capital has become eBay on the Potomac as even some historically pro-trade House Republicans are acting coy in hopes they can score a lucrative side deal.

AFL-CIO news■  Today from AP -- Teamsters, SEIU bolt AFL-CIO federation
■  Today at UnitetoWin.org -- SEIU disaffiliates from national AFL-CIO effective today 
■  In today's NY Times -- 4 major unions plan to boycott AFL-CIO event -- Officials from the SEIU and Teamsters say they will withdraw from the federation today. UFCW President Joe Hansen indicated his union would probably also leave, despite Sweeney's efforts to persuade them to stay. SEIU's Stern: "We're not trying to divide the labor movement -- we're trying to rebuild it."
■  In today’s Olympian -- State's workers aligned on both sides of debate -- SEIU 775's David Rolf: It is "highly unlikely" the SEIU would go after other union's workers. WFSE Council 28's Greg Devereux: "No one knows" whether the breakup will mean competition between unions for the same workers, but he says it will weaken the Washington State Labor Council, which provides staff to coordinate labor-related political efforts:"If the state labor council no longer has funding to do that, the individual unions won't either. It potentially could undermine that infrastructure."
■  Today at AFLCIO.org --  2,000 rally in support of Sweeney team
■ 
In today’s Salem (Ore.) S-J -- Oregon SEIU leader says accord unlikely
■  In Sunday’s NY Times -- Democrats concerned by prospects of a labor schism
■  Get the latest insider's view from the AFL-CIO Convention at the Working Life blog.

Local news■  In today’s Olympian -- Raises come.. and raises go -- Increased pension deductions and new union dues will eat up most of the 3.2 percent pay raise for many union workers.
■  In today’s Olympian -- Oregon state workers (SEIU) tout their new contracts -- After their latest round of bargaining, their workers continue to pay zero premiums or co-payments for health care.
■  In Saturday's Seattle Times -- Four ex-organizers sue UNITE HERE over pay -- In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Seattle, plantiffs say they and hundreds of others were expected to work more than 40 hours a week without overtime pay. They're suing for back wages and class-action status to include some 500 current and former employees who worked for the union after 2002.
■  In today's News Tribune -- SPEEA stays optimistic -- As union begins preliminary discussions with Boeing this year for a new contract, the company and industry are on an upswing. (A Q&A with two members of SPEEA's negotiating team.)
■  In Sunday's Daily News -- Blaming illegal immigrants is simplistic -- and misguided (editorial)
■  In today’s Seattle P-I -- Costco CEO charts his own course with high wages, low prices

Political news: ■  In Sunday's Seattle Times -- Gasoline tax fuels backlash -- If I-912 passes, it could spell the end of efforts to tackle major transportation projects for years, say Democrats.
■  In today's Seattle Times -- State, GOP at odds over party labels -- GOP says candidates can be designated as Republicans on the ballot only if they received at least 25% of the vote at county party conventions. State elections say candidates can pick any party label they want.
■  Sunday from AP -- McGavick steps up to take on Cantwell, but who is he?
■  In today's PSBJ -- McGavick rivals line up -- Others who may seek Cantwell's seat are state Sen. Linda Evans Parlette from Wenatchee, former federal prosecutor Diane Tebelius, former U.S. Rep. Rick White, GOP activist Susan McCaw and TV news anchor Susan Hutchison.
■  In Sunday's Kitsap Sun -- Sen. Bob Oke's doctors call him "the miracle" after successful treatment

National news:  ■  Today from AP -- Senate poised to vote on estate tax repeal
■  In today's NY Times -- Toyota, moving northward (Krugman column) -- Treating people decently is sometimes a competitive advantage. In America, basic health insurance is a privilege; in Canada, it's a right. And in the auto industry, at least, the good jobs are heading north for that reason.
■  In today's LA Times -- FedEx unit faces labor lawsuits -- Contract drivers for the firm's trucking division contend they should be hired as employees, not independent contractors.
■  Today from AP -- Outsourcing seen as boon to American Indians
■  In today's SF Chronicle -- Newspaper Guild, Chronicle reach tentative agreement
 


THURSDAY, JULY 28
New UFW contract talks scheduled; email Gallo TODAY!

Thanks to all of you who signed the petition urging the Gallos to negotiate a fair contract with the United Farm Workers, new contract talks have been scheduled between the UFW and Gallo of Sonoma. But now we need to keep up the pressure by emailing the Gallos and letting them know consumers are watching, and expecting them to genuinely bargain with the UFW.

The Gallos pay all their Sonoma County vineyard workers low wages and deny them benefits, job protections and humane living conditions. The Gallos were found guilty in November 2004 by the California farm labor board of illegally attempting to get rid of their workers’ union, the Cesar Chavez-founded UFW.  In the face of the Gallos’ unwillingness to negotiate a fair contract with their workers, the UFW kicked off its second boycott of Gallo wine on June 14.

Recent weeks have seen silent vigils and prayer services, a "No Gallo!" march in San Francisco by 1,500 farm workers and supporters, and the UFW's first National Day of Internet Organizing. On July 19, people across Washington state and the rest of the nation sent emails to the Gallos and forwarded our appeal to their email address books and organizations' list of members. 

TAKE ACTION:  Please help the UFW escalate the pressure. Email the Gallos TODAY in advance of the bargaining session by visiting www.unionvoice.org/campaign/Galloneg72805?source=wslc. Help the UFW convince the Gallos to do the responsible thing by stopping the exploitation of their Sonoma workers. Then, please forward this message to your email lists, friends and family.

Thank you for your efforts to help the Gallo workers.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 27
Radio discussion tonight on labor's future in Washington

Washington State Labor Council spokesperson David Groves, SEIU Local 925 President Kim Cook, and UFCW Regional Director Geralyn Lutty will be among the panelists tonight from 6 to 7 p.m. on KBCS 91.3 FM, a listener-supported, non-commercial radio station licensed to Bellevue Community College. They will be discussing the recent split in the AFL-CIO, new directions for the labor movement and what it means in Washington state.

The call-in number is (425) 564-2424.

WSLC Reports Today has it on good authority that Groves is a particularly eloquent and thoughtful individual. Tune in and decide for yourself. 

TUESDAY, JULY 26
SEIU, IBT quit AFL-CIO and the WSLC
WSLC "committed to continuing its proud tradition of success"

In deciding to disaffiliate from the national AFL-CIO, leaders of the Service Employees International Union and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters have also decided to disaffiliate from all AFL-CIO state federations -- including the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO -- and all AFL-CIO central labor councils. Their disaffiliations, and any subsequent disaffiliations, will have an immediate effect on the WSLC, one that will require restructuring of the council, including service cuts and staff layoffs.

The loss of SEIU and Teamsters affiliates will result in a 12 percent cut in members for the WSLC, based on per capita membership fees paid during the fiscal year that ended March 31, 2005. Should the United Food and Commercial Workers and UNITE HERE follow through with their threats to disaffiliate from the national AFL-CIO, the total result would be an estimated 26 percent loss of WSLC per capita members.

"The Washington State Labor Council remains committed to continuing its proud tradition of success in advocating for Washington's working families," said WSLC President Rick Bender. "In many ways, our state has bucked national trends on declining union membership and the election of anti-union politicians. We are determined to improve upon those successes, but unfortunately those efforts will be without the participation of those who have chosen to quit the AFL-CIO."

Under the theme, "Labor at a Crossroads," the WSLC's 2005 Convention in Spokane next week will include a report from Bender regarding the latest developments, the restructuring of the AFL-CIO, and how it impacts the mission and operations of the WSLC and AFL-CIO central labor councils. Delegates will also have an opportunity to weigh in on these historic developments by participating in a special three-hour workshop discussion of the future of the WSLC, the AFL-CIO and the American labor movement.

When you're out, you're out

By Constitution, it has always been the policy that unions not affiliated with the AFL-CIO may not affiliate with AFL-CIO state and central labor bodies. That is why independent unions, such as the Washington Education Association, and the recent disaffiliates of the AFL-CIO, like the Washington state local unions of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, may not join the WSLC.

This has been the policy since the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO was founded in July 1957 shortly after the merger of the AFL and the CIO. In fact, the Constitution of the Washington State Federation of Labor that predated the merger also included language that said only unions "under the laws of the American Federation of Labor... shall be entitled to membership." So this is nothing new.

There is some confusion about this policy because the presidents of the SEIU and Teamsters both publicly indicated Monday that they have asked their local affiliates to "continue paying dues" to the state federations and central labor councils to which they are affiliated. Both leaders acknowledged the importance and effectiveness of many state and local councils, and don't want to be blamed for decimating these organizations.

In fact, SEIU President Andy Stern and Teamsters President James Hoffa are positioning to lay the blame squarely at AFL-CIO President John Sweeney's feet. They have suggested that it is Sweeney's decision whether to adopt the "exclusionary practice" of kicking their local unions out of state federations and central bodies. SEIU's Stern even compared such an outcome to the exclusion of blacks from certain unions nearly a century ago.

When asked by reporters Monday whether their unions' locals would continue to support state federations and central labor councils, or set up their own similar councils, here is how SEIU's Stern and the Teamsters' Hoffa responded:

HOFFA: Our intentions are, and what we have instructed our local unions out there in the field... is to keep paying dues. We believe these organizations fulfill a vital role. And there is a lot of fear... with our leaving, this could be up to 40 percent of their budgets and we do not want to disrupt this vital function. This could run into a problem because Brother Sweeney and the AFL-CIO are passing resolutions and amendments that say if you are not an affiliate you cannot participate in the CLCs. [On setting up separate bodies]... I will leave that to the CLCs.

STERN: The AFL-CIO and the labor movement in general does really badly when it adopts exclusionary practices. There was a time in the American labor movement, a sad time in the American labor movement, when lots of unions didn't let African Americans into this movement. It did not serve the movement well. There was a time when PATCO went on strike in 1981 and because they were not in the AFL-CIO, we didn't rally to their support and we paid the price. It would be a tragedy if the AFL-CIO again repeats those kind of exclusionary tactics.

But what Hoffa says here is not true. No resolution sought by Sweeney seeks to exclude disaffiliates because that is already the policy, and always has been. Unless the AFL-CIO passes a new resolution at its Chicago convention now under way -- one that allows unions outside to AFL-CIO to affiliate on a local level -- the longstanding policy will remain in effect and will apply to SEIU and the Teamsters just as it has to all previous unions who quit the federation.

It is rumored that just such a resolution will be introduced on the floor of the convention by the Laborers union, but there is little reason to expect its passage since the other dissident unions that support it have chosen to boycott the convention. Many leaders of the remaining AFL-CIO unions have expressed anger and disgust over Monday's disaffiliations, and none have indicated they support changing the rules to accommodate the SEIU and Teamsters, and retain their participation at a local level.

In summary, it is either disingenuous or deliberately misleading to suggest John Sweeney or some newly conceived policy of exclusion is to blame for the major budget and service cuts about to happen at all state federations and central labor councils, including the WSLC.

UPDATE: There is speculation about a "revolt" in Chicago by state federation and central labor council leaders desperate to find a way to keep the SEIU and Teamsters withdrawals from decimating their organizations. But absent some creative solutions -- such as creating separate state-based 527 organizations to coordinate political efforts -- this is not possible without inviting the national AFL-CIO to put offending state and local bodies into receivership, which they have the power to do. Rogue state federations and central labor councils that decide to ignore their Constitutions could find the locks changed on their council doors.


Previous weeks' news: July 18-22 -- July 11-15 -- July 5-8

 

If you have news items regarding unions or workplace issues in Washington state that you would like to see posted here, please submit them via e-mail to David Groves or via fax to 206-285-5805.

Copyright © 2005   Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO