Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Reuniting the Labor Movement

The New York Times reports this morning that the labor movement will heed a call from the Obama administration and begin talks to reunite. Steven Greenhouse reports:

The 12 union presidents issued a statement, saying: “The goal of the meeting is to create a unified labor movement that can speak and act nationally on the critical issues facing working Americans. While we represent the largest labor unions, we recognize that unity requires broad participation.”

I’m not the only one surprised by this. Here’s Greenhouse (who seems to have gotten the scoop on this) again:

The call for reunification was something of an about-face for the presidents of the Service Employees International Union, the Teamsters and several other unions that quit the A.F.L.-C.I.O., asserting that the federation was stodgy and had not done enough to reverse organized labor?s long decline. The breakaway unions formed a federation called Change to Win.

I’m left guessing how Stern, Sweeney, and others will reconcile their differences. It wasn’t too long ago that Stern and Sweeney went toe-to-toe after the SEIU crashed the Labor Notes conference. Sweeney went so far as telling the NYT “There is no justification, none, for the violent attack orchestrated by S.E.I.U.”

Change to Win has always struck me as a place for Stern to hang his hat before papa Sweeney retired. Ostensibly, Change to Win left the AFL-CIO to refocus their efforts away from political activities and onto organizing new members. But as we’ve seen in the last two elections, Change to Win’s unions have been some of the most politically active.

Categories: AFL-CIOCenter for Union FactsChange To WinEFACSEIU