John Sweeney stood at the left end of American unionism. And for 14 years, he stood atop that world, radicalizing organized labor and America in the process – and not for the better. On February 1, Sweeney, who served as AFL-CIO president during 1995-2009, died of natural causes at his home in Bethesda, Md. He was 86. His successor, current AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, lamented: “John was a great leader and a true innovator, driving the labor movement forward. We stand on that foundation today as we take on the challenges of inequality, systemic racism and much more.” Such praise embodies what has gone wrong with union leadership. By pouring vast sums of time and money into the coffers of the Democratic Party, and its allied political action committees and nonprofit groups, he moved the needle of American politics well to the left.
Sweeney was born to Irish immigrants on … Read More ➡
It began on June 15 of this year as a rump faction within the AFL-CIO. And now the Change to Win Coalition, on Tuesday, September 27, made it official: It is now a federation in its own right. The group split from the AFL-CIO after several years of growing acrimony. Change to Win (CTW) unions came to believe that the AFL-CIO was pouring enormous amounts of money and energy into political advocacy at the expense of organizing. The result of misguided priorities was a decaying labor movement. “Organizing is our core principle. It is our North Star,” declared Change to Win founding chair, Anna Burger, before a large, cheering convention in St. Louis. Burger, longtime (and still) political director for the 1.8 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU), added, “We will put our money where our mouth is, with three-quarters of our resources going to a groundbreaking organizing crusade.” … Read More ➡
People saw it coming a mile away. The Teamsters’ James P. Hoffa and the Service Employees’ Andrew Stern each made good on their threats to take their unions out of the AFL-CIO at the start of that labor federation’s 50th anniversary convention in Chicago. In the process, they and several other dissenting unions have left observers wondering if the fortunes of organized labor have been irrevocably damaged. While that’s a possibility, the most likely long-run outcome probably will be the opposite. Indeed, unions may emerge with more members, revenues and political clout. As for battling corruption, they don’t seem to view this as a high-priority item. But this requires some context. And the context is the convention.
Populism ran deep, proud and far to the left inside the large air-conditioned convention hall along Chicago’s Navy Pier Monday through Thursday, July 25-28. There was no mistaking the left … Read More ➡