May 09, 2005

Labor Strife

Harold Meyerson peers deep in the bowels of recent AFL-CIO disputes and finds... a lot of shit-slinging. Perhaps I'm naive, but these intra-labor disputes always sound far more ferocious than they really need to be. Still, things don't look good. The SEIU and other dissident unions aren't happy with the halfway changes that current federation president John Sweeney has just announced—namely, new industry Coordinating Committees, rebates for unions doing "serious" organizing, more money for solidarity with unions abroad, abolishing the International Affairs Department, etc.—and would prefer that Sweeney just stepped down. At the same time, the dissident unions don't really have the votes to get their preferred changes enacted. So perhaps the SEIU, UNITE, and the Teamsters will all secede. Or perhaps they're bluffing. Either way, plenty of insults are flying.

Meanwhile, I wish some smart labor analyst could tell me which side's proposals would be "better" for organized labor, so that I could have the correct opinion about all this. For now, though, none of the disputes seem all that fundamental, and all sides could probably agree on some compromise measure, if only Sweeney were to step aside and be replaced by someone who could introduce sweet, sweet unity.
-- Brad Plumer 11:41 AM || ||