Labor Schism Widens
By George Anderson
A fight is taking place over the future direction of national organized labor. At the heart of the matter is a fractious disagreement over how to reverse the decline in union membership around the country.
Last month, the presidents of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Teamsters, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), Laborers, and UNITE HERE formed the “Change To Win Coalition.”
The group, which represents about 35 percent of the total membership of the AFL-CIO, said the union’s leadership has failed to put enough support into organizing new members.
According to the socialist weekly, The Militant, union membership – about 12.5 percent of all U.S. workers – is at its lowest points in decades.
An editorial in the publication maintains that neither the current leadership of the AFL-CIO or those in “Change to Win Coalition” has workers’ interests at heart. Both factions fail to address, The Militant maintains, “the needs of working people in face of a concerted attack by the bosses and their government on our wages, job conditions, social gains, and rights.”
Both sides, the publication argues, “promote collaboration with the employers on the false premise that bosses and workers have common interests to save ‘our’ companies, instead of mobilizing the ranks to defend the interests of working people. Seeking to maintain their high living atop the union movement, labor officials on both sides advocate ever-bigger unions mergers, which only weaken the industrial character and potential power of the unions.”
Moderator’s Comment: What role is there for organized labor in retailing and related businesses today? Do workers and management have common interests
as many maintain or is it a smokescreen as the socialist publication, The Militant, suggests? –
George Anderson – Moderator
- AFL-CIO faction fight may split labor federation – The Militant
- Behind rift in AFL-CIO – The Militant