Teamsters did pull out of AFL-CIO



Teamsters, workers break from AFL-CIO By Alonso Soto
2 hours, 11 minutes ago

Two major unions representing 3.2 million workers broke away from the AFL-CIO labor group on Monday in a dispute over declining U.S. union membership and the future direction of organized labor.

The defection by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union was a huge blow to the 13 million-member AFL-CIO, which stands to lose more than one-third of its membership and may see an erosion in its influence over Democratic Party politics.

The two unions belong to a dissident group made up of seven unions that want a greater focus on organizing workers and merging smaller unions into larger ones. They charge the AFL-CIO devotes too much of its resources to political lobbying and the central office.

"We have been disappointed over the last 10 years with the decline in membership. The AFL-CIO idea is to keep throwing money at politicians. We say no," Teamsters president James Hoffa said. "We are going to do something new."

"I want to stress that this was not a happy or easy decision," said SEIU President Andy Stern, recognized as the dissidents' leader.

Several other members of the dissident group, which calls itself the Change to Win Coalition, may secede from the AFL-CIO in the coming days. They are the Laborers International of North America, UNITE HERE (the textile, garment, hotel employees), the United Food and Commercial Workers, and the United Farm Workers.

A seventh union, the 300,000-member Carpenters and Joiners International, broke away from the AFL-CIO four years ago.

In months of infighting the dissident unions rejected the parent AFL-CIO's proposals to pour more resources into organizing. The federation also cut its staff, apparently to try to bridge the rift.


The dispute culminated in a boycott by dissident unions of the AFL-CIO's convention, which opened in Chicago on Monday. It was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the organization's founding and reelect president John Sweeney, 71, to a third term.

"A divided movement hurts the hopes of working families for a better life, and that makes me angry," Sweeney said in his keynote address to the cheering convention on Monday.

The boycott, he added, "is a grievous insult to all the unions."

Hoffa and Stern announced the split at an SEIU local's offices a few blocks from the convention site.

Since Sweeney assumed leadership of the federation in 1995 as a reformer, union membership fell from 15.5 percent of the U.S. work force to 12.5 percent. In 1983, before a U.S. manufacturing decline and the loss of jobs to other countries, one of five workers belonged to a union.

The dissident group that calls itself the Change to Win Coalition has already scheduled a "founding convention" scheduled for later this year. The unions collectively owe about $10 million in back dues to the AFL-CIO that Hoffa said would be the subject of negotiations.

The Teamsters and SEIU each contributed $10 million annually to the AFL-CIO's $125 million budget.

Asked whether the rift would dilute labor's political clout, Stern said his union's efforts would continue.

"A divided labor movement can only be bad news for the Democrats," said political analyst Don Rose. "I don't think that more labor union members are going to vote Republican, but disunity within labor can hurt their organizing; their coordinating and financing of campaigns."

The defecting unions mostly represent lower-wage workers, many in service industries where organizing is expanding, while dominant unions in the auto, steel and communications industries remained in the AFL-CIO fold, Vanderbilt University sociologist Dan Cornfield said.

The move reflects unions' notable failure to organize workers at such huge companies as retailer Wal-Mart and package deliverer FedEx.

Robert Bruno, a labor expert at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said having two union coalitions may boost organizing and political activity.

"When nonunion workers have options, when they have competing unions vying for their membership, they'd be more likely to join," Bruno said.

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I believe this is incorrect better do your home work. Teamsters rejoined this year
The five year old article above was correct at the time it originally ran.

Recently the Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA) and UNITE HERE both rejoined the AFL-CIO.

The Teamsters have not!!!