Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Wall Street Journal: Change To Lose?

In this morning’s Wall Street Journal, reporter Kris Maher looks at the failed promises of the Change To Win federation, which was created after unhappy SEIU president and apparent megalomaniac Andy Stern took his ball and went home. He took more than 5 million members out of the AFL-CIO, splitting the labor movement. Now Maher expands on an emerging theme — that labor officials that broke away have formed a less perfect union, and it’s getting ugly in the Cheat To Win camp.

Maher notes that organizing — CTW’s main purpose — has been unimpressive:

The federation, which represents 5.4 million workers in health care, trucking, hotels and construction, among other industries, has failed to significantly increase its membership. Moreover, membership growth within Change to Win unions has been mixed. Recent government filings show that unions that had strong organizing departments continued to perform better than the rest, while others continued to trail.

Meanwhile, the group continues to laud its Strategic Organizing Center, which is designed to gather the most ruthless tactics from each of the unions. Maher reports:

But there are signs the group is unhappy with its performance. In a March letter to the federation’s leadership, Anna Burger, chairwoman of Change to Win, cited areas in which the group has failed to reach consensus, including its own internal finances, immigration policy, health-care policy, retirement-security policy, presidential politics and on how to confront Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

The fight over Wal-Mart seems to be a slowly tearing seam:

Tensions within the new organization stem partly from a news conference in February in which Andy Stern, president of SEIU, announced that he was teaming up with Lee Scott, chief executive of Wal-Mart, as well as other business and labor leaders to lobby Congress for health-care overhaul.

Joseph Hansen of the UFCW quickly denounced the event as a “publicity stunt.” The UFCW has been trying for years to organize workers at Wal-Mart and is currently waging a campaign to tarnish the retailer’s image. The meeting undermined labor’s criticism of the company, by giving the appearance of accepting its health-care policies, Mr. Hansen argues. He declined to comment for this article.

Part of UFCW’s campaign, Maher reports, includes pressuring presidential candidates to attack the retailer and refrain from “publicity stunts” like Stern’s.

All of this is by way of saying: for the Cheat To Win unions, whose bosses are the clear leaders in anti-democratic card check organizing campaigns, passing the bogus Employee Free Choice Act (which would make card check the law of the land) is more important than ever. That is why union bosses dumped tens of millions into the last election. As we told this morning’s Politico, “At this point, the EFCA is just payback for election work. In effect, lobbying now is just reminding politicians who got them elected.”

Categories: SEIU