For the past two years, the AFL-CIO has publicized the various methods
that employers use to intimidate their workers from joining a union. It
noted that in FY 2005, for example, as many as 31,358 workers were fired
for pro-union activity.
To counter employer anti-union aggression, the AFL-CIO and its rival,
Change to Win (CtW), have asked Congress to pass the Employee Free Choice
Act (EFCA), which would impose fines on employers who violate their
workers' right to join a union. Even more important, EFPC would make it
easier to organize workers by having them sign authorization cards rather
than going through a boss-influenced Labor Board election.
But what about the 50 million unorganized workers who say, according to
studies, that they'd like to belong to a union? They are being told, in
effect, that now is not the time to unionize them; employers are too
strong. Unions will be in a stronger position to recruit them as soon as
Congress passes Employee Free Choice?
When will that happen? Not in 2008. EFCA passed the House, but was
short of several votes to get through the Senate, and President Bush has
promised to veto it. The legislation might pass Congress if the Democrats
regain the White House and win large majorities in the House and Senate.
But don't underestimate the anti-union lobbyists and the opposition of
But what if Congress fails to act, what then? Neither the AFL-CIO nor
the CtW has a specific plan to reach out to the millions of unorganized
workers. In fact, under the Sweeney administration for the past dozen
years, unions have become weaker, both at the bargaining table and in the
political arena. The odds of building a bigger and stronger labor movement
have shrunk to their lowest point.
Labor Leaders Don't Want Change; Cling to 'Status Quo'
So what are the AFL-CIO and CtW plans for the immediate future? They
don't seem to have any. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and the 48-member
Executive Council maintain their usual silence. They do not accept
responsibility for labor's poor organizing record and legislative defeats.
The AFL-CIO Constitution contains an antiquated procedure for the
choice and votes of delegates that guarantees the re-election of
and excludes any potential challenger. In the past dozen years, the
teams has been re-elected three times without opposition, even though
was a continuing decline in membership and bargaining power. Yet neither
Sweeney nor any member of the Executive Council will step forward to
this outrageously undemocratic provision which perpetuates them in office.