Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

The Devil Preaching to the Choir

OK, the AFL-CIO’s organizing director, Stewart Acuff, is not the devil. But his employer is no angel. The AFL-CIO and its members have a rough record: lavish salaries, crime, corruption, shy on union democracy, the works. So it’s interesting that he gave a rousing speech to (and in praise of) United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers, a non-AFL member union.

Harry Kelber at notes:

Acuff’s enthusiasm for this union is justified. The UE is a showcase of union democracy in action. The top three officers each receive $55,150.32 a year, their salaries ratified by the votes of the membership. “Double dipping” (holding two paid union jobs) is banned by the union constitution.

The union’s financial records are audited every three months by elected rank-and-file trustees. Each of the UE1s three regional boards, consists of three officers and 12 elected union members. Conventions are held every two years. (It used to be every year.). The UE constitution has other features that guarantee membership rights, including the right to recall (and discharge) any officer that does not meet the approval of the membership.

More importantly, Kelber asks and answers the critical question:

Could Acuff’s Speech Ring True in any AFL-CIO Union?

Is there any current AFL-CIO international union where Acuff could — or would — make the kind of speech he gave at the UE? I can’t think of any. As for Change to Win, union democracy has become almost a dirty phrase, treated with contempt by SEIU President Andy Stern and his colleagues.

Categories: AFL-CIOCenter for Union Facts