Should The Twu Be Worried About Amfa

Buck

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At Teamsters Conference, Dissidents Warn of Death of Labor Movement

BY JOSH GERSTEIN - Staff Reporter of the Sun
May 10, 2005

LAS VEGAS - Addressing a Teamsters conference here yesterday, five chiefs of major labor unions urgently called for sweeping reforms to the country's largest labor federation, the AFL-CIO, and dismissed as woefully inadequate the restructuring plan put forward by the labor group's president, John Sweeney.

In a series of salty and at times profane speeches to hundreds of Teamsters officials and organizers from across the country, the dissident labor chiefs warned that the labor movement is approaching irrelevancy.

"I honestly believe it, and I'm ashamed to say it: The labor movement is on life support," the president of the Laborers, Terence O'Sullivan, said.

"We are at a crossroads as a movement and as a country. I believe that without dramatic, far-reaching, and radical change, the American labor movement will become insignificant in the lives of American working families," Mr. O'Sullivan said. "It's gut check time."

In March, five of America's largest and healthiest unions - the Laborers, the Teamsters, the Service Employees International Union, the United Food and Commercial Workers, and a hotel, restaurant, and laundry workers' union, Unite Here - endorsed a plan to allow unions to withhold or get back half of their per capita dues from the federation if the funds were used for organizing campaigns. The dissident unions also proposed that the AFL-CIO sharply cut the size of its operation, perhaps by half or more.

That reform proposal was rejected after Mr. Sweeney promised his own restructuring plan, including $15 million in new rebates for organizing. Last week, the first jolts from that plan were felt in Washington, D.C., as a third of the workers at AFL-CIO headquarters learned they were losing their jobs.

However, the dissident union chiefs, who represent about 40% of the 12.5 million workers in the labor federation, made clear yesterday that they do not believe Mr. Sweeney has gone far enough. A man considered a possible challenger to Mr. Sweeney at the AFL-CIO convention in July, John Wilhelm of Unite Here, delivered a stem-winder that sounded a lot like a campaign speech.

"The American labor movement at the level of the AFL-CIO has lost its way. They've lost this vision. It's lost its energy. It's lost its hope. And that's a crime," Mr. Wilhelm shouted yesterday. "Too much of the leadership of the labor movement in this country - the so-called leadership - thinks that we have to accept the fact that workers in this country are in trouble.... We aren't going to accept it. You're not going to accept it. None of these unions are going to accept it. And we're going to teach the AFL-CIO that they shouldn't accept it either."

Mr. Wilhelm has declined to comment on the reports that he may challenge Mr. Sweeney, 71, who has served in the AFL-CIO's top slot for more than a decade.

The president of the Service Employees union, Andrew Stern, challenged Mr. Sweeney by name. "John Sweeney and the AFL-CIO need to understand: We're not going to grow stronger if our numbers grow smaller," he said.

Efforts to reach an AFL-CIO spokeswoman for comment were unsuccessful.

The other union chiefs at the "Unity" conference were guests of the Teamsters president, James Hoffa Jr.

During the rally in a hotel ballroom, Teamsters repeatedly broke out into chants of "HOF-FA, HOF-FA!" as the labor leaders paid tribute to the Teamsters' boss. However, they grew quiet and even gasped as Mr. Stern showed a PowerPoint-type presentation that dramatized labor's retreat from a national power to a movement that is significant only a few states.

At its height in the 1960s, about 30% of workers were unionized. That statistic has dropped, he said, and to day as low as 7.8% of the private sector is unionized.

"That's the problem in the labor movement. That's what John Sweeney doesn't get. That's what those other unions don't get," Mr. Stern said. He also complained that there are simply too many unions and that the divisions allow businesses to pit one union against another.

"This is not organized labor. This is disorganized labor," Mr. Stern said. "Unions are undercutting each other."

That message certainly resonated with the Teamsters.

"There are bottom-feeding unions around like the Machinists that are out there trying to steal our members from the Teamsters, with lower, sweetheart contracts," Mr. Hoffa said. "It's time for the AFL-CIO to stand up and do what's right and adjudicate these things so we protect good wages and we make sure that these other people don't come around and steal our jobs."

Asked about the bitter comment, a spokesman for the Machinists, Richard Sloan, said only, "In all of these matters you have to consider the source."

The rivalries among unions are affecting the dispute over Mr. Sweeney's future. The Machinists have been some of his most loyal allies, while the Teamsters recently decided to thrown in their lot with outspoken reformers like Mr. Stern.

Mr. Hoffa did not address a possible challenge to Mr. Sweeney. However, the Teamsters chief said his union is not satisfied with the current restructuring plan.

"We're going to fight at the convention in July for what's right," Mr. Hoffa said.

Mr. Stern reiterated an earlier threat to leave the AFL-CIO if serious reforms aren't implemented.

"It is so long overdue that we either change this AFL-CIO or we build something stronger that really can change workers lives. That's what we're all going to do together," the Service Employees president said.

The other labor leaders did not endorse Mr. Stern's threat, though Mr. O'Sullivan predicted that a number of unions would quit if the AFL-CIO did not address a perception of "apathy" at the top.

Several of the labor leaders also complained that the AFL-CIO is too beholden to Democrats.

"How can it be that the political program of the AFL-CIO has become captured by the Democratic Party?" Mr. Wilhelm asked. "I'm sure we'll endorsed Democrats most of the time if they do the right thing for working people. But the America labor movement should not be a captive of any party."

The general president of Unite Here, Bruce Raynor, said workers have gotten little relief from the federal government under Presidents Clinton or Bush. "American working people took it on the chin through both administrations," Mr. Raynor said.

In one of Mr. Stern's feistier moments, he declared, "If unions think that the labor movement can allow this to happen, they can kiss my a-."

That and some other off-color remarks prompted Mr. O'Sullivan to say he was in need of his parish priest. "I think I need to go to confession after what's going on up here," he quipped.

In another religious allusion, Mr. O'Sullivan said, "Where the hell is Moses when you need him? I mean parting the Red Sea is nothing compared to the challenges that we face as a movement."

In an interview, the president of a New York Teamsters local, Timothy Lynch, said the labor movement needs to talk more about the basic human rights and human needs of individual workers. He said the speeches didn't delve into those issues in enough depth.

They're very passionate and critical," Mr. Lynch said of the dissident union chiefs. "Passion alone is definitely not going to get the job done."
 
As long as we have cheap labor entering the work force in large numbers and jobs leaving the country for even cheaper labor, the laws of supply and demand will cause wages and benefits to go down.

Way down.
 
Wretched Wrench said:
As long as we have cheap labor entering the work force in large numbers and jobs leaving the country for even cheaper labor, the laws of supply and demand will cause wages and benefits to go down.

Way down.
[post="268731"][/post]​
<_< For once I have to agree with Wrench!!!!
 
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MCI transplant said:
<_< For once I have to agree with Wrench!!!!
[post="268739"][/post]​

Does the Job Fair at MCI have any effect over the supply and demand of the A&P Mechanic in the airline industry?
 
Buck said:
Does the Job Fair at MCI have any effect over the supply and demand of the A&P Mechanic in the airline industry?
[post="268900"][/post]​

The issue is far broader than just A&P mechanics, but the job fair is more a reflection than an effect.

We have to control our immigration.

But the most important issue is to press the FAA to allow no one to touch an airplane with a tool without an A&P license. Until that takes place, we can be undercut, outsourced and concessioned to death. All the unions have to get together on this issue or we are done for. As long as they have lettuce pickers and street people working at chop shops. there is no hope for us.
 
Wretched Wrench said:
The issue is far broader than just A&P mechanics, but the job fair is more a reflection than an effect.

We have to control our immigration.

But the most important issue is to press the FAA to allow no one to touch an airplane with a tool without an A&P license. Until that takes place, we can be undercut, outsourced and concessioned to death. All the unions have to get together on this issue or we are done for. As long as they have lettuce pickers and street people working at chop shops. there is no hope for us.
[post="268902"][/post]​
Pretty sad when you have to have a license to cut hair but not to work on an aircraft.
 
"That's the problem in the labor movement. That's what John Sweeney doesn't get. That's what those other unions don't get," Mr. Stern said. He also complained that there are simply too many unions and that the divisions allow businesses to pit one union against another.
"This is not organized labor. This is disorganized labor," Mr. Stern said. "Unions are undercutting each other."

That message certainly resonated with the Teamsters.

"There are bottom-feeding unions around like the Machinists that are out there trying to steal our members from the Teamsters, with lower, sweetheart contracts," Mr. Hoffa said.


Sounds like what I've been saying for the last 6 years.

I'm no fan of Hoffa, in fact I was given a sweatshirt from a Teamster friend that says " Local 804 Teamsters Home of Ron Carey".

Hoffa, who faces membership votes instead of a rigged Convention like the TWU, is no doubt trying to portray himself as a reformer to take away some momentum from the TDU.

I guess he considered the TWU too insignificant to even mention. If the IAM are bottom feeders then what is the TWU?

Wretched Wrench, while your claim has some merit, and requiring an A&P would undoubtedly be a huge asset for us, its not our only hope. There are workers out there that work jobs that do not require liscencing that have strong unions that get their members good pay such as Electricians-who normally work under the liscence of the employer, Plumbers, longshoremen etc.

Consider this. That despite the fact that unions now only represent a small percentage of the workforce the number of union workers has not diminished that much. What has happened is that the workforce has expanded at a rate that is greater than the rate of population growth. This is primarily due to women and the elderly who are economically forced into the workforce. So despite lost jobs we have more people working than ever, in fact, many work two or more because of low wages.

The sad part is that as they dwell on numbers(more members), they are losing the faith and trust of those they already have. Unions have not been willing to engage in real disruptive activity. Todays union leaders will not do jail time for the members, they might risk it for other things, but not in a contest with the powers at be.

Ron Carey found out what happens when you give workers hope and show that the picket line is still an effective weapon when its done right.
 
aafsc said:
Pretty sad when you have to have a license to cut hair but not to work on an aircraft.
[post="268912"][/post]​
Thanks, that quote should be a headline in the media!
 
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