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Stern is Right

Andy Stern, head of SEIU, wants to change the AFL-CIO. His recommendations include:

  1. "consolidating the federation's 60 unions, perhaps to less than 20, saying that many unions are too small to grapple with giant corporations."

  2. "Complaining that workers are often hurt when 10 or more unions represent workers in a single industry, Mr. Stern called for giving the A.F.L.-C.I.O. power to bar a union from negotiating a contract that undercuts the wages and benefits that unions in the same industry have already negotiated."

  3. "As part of an effort to make $2 billion available for unionizing efforts over the next five years, Mr. Stern called yesterday for giving half the dues that member unions pay the A.F.L.-C.I.O. back to the unions so they would have more money available for organizing."

  4. "He also proposed using the $25 million in royalties that the A.F.L.-C.I.O. gets each year from its Union Plus credit card to organize Wal-Mart, the nation's largest corporation."

  5. "have unions back national health care reform and have unions back a campaign to pressure employers not to interfere in organizing drives."
All those sound like good ideas to me. What's troubling is the response of the head of the Machinist's union:
"It's not Andy Stern's role in life to say to 60 other international unions that you got to do it my way or the highway," Mr. Sloan said. "That's just dead wrong. There's an arrogance to that. He fails by misunderstanding the nature of the labor movement - this isn't a set of elites that dictates to us. This is a democratic movement."
SEIU is not a "set of elites." Putting forward an agenda for change is not "arrogant." Maybe there is some personal tension here, but Sloan's response is completely ridiculous.

Update, 11/10/04, 5:25 PM EST: For more on Stern's plans, see his new blog, Unite to Win.

Updaye, 11/10/04, 5:52 PM EST: On a somewhat related note, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation filed an FEC complaint against SEIU:
"SEIU officials used the hard-earned wages of rank-and-file workers to bankroll the campaigns of hundreds of political candidates across America," said the foundation's president, Stefan Gleason. The group opposes mandatory union dues and provides free legal representation for members with allegations of union abuse.
Based solely on their press release, the complaint is obviously garbage. If the FEC were to declare ACT a "political campaign," it wouldn't be in this case. Spending funds from "dues-paying members" is not the same thing as spending dues.


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