The big showdown in Chicago has started. (Well, officially on Monday, but lots of people are in town).
The AFL-CIO convention is this week here in the Capitol of Blue America. But all is not settled in the dwindling House of Labor.
The more aggressive, growth-oriented unions have decided that the AFL-CIO (which is sort of like the United Nations of labor unions in the U.S. -- no independent power and it is only as strong as the member unions allow it to be) costs too much and doesn't spend enough money on organizing new people into unions. They also think the AFL-CIO, kind of like the UN, it far too timid about throwing some collective weight around. They want to Federation to force reluctant unions to merge into bigger unions. These unions are in the Change To Win Coalition. Their website is here. And the AFL's response to the growth-oriented unions' proposals is here.
I like the spirit of the Change To Win unions. I'm not in a labor union, so I don't really know which plan makes the most sense. I do know that the unions in the Change To Win coalition tend to endorse better candidates in Democratic primaries than the non-Change unions (and the Obama-Hynes Senate '04 race is an archetypical example for me). So I hope they get their way.
By the way, I had been relying on Nathan Newman's blog for lots of labor insight, but he's set up shop with Talking Points Memo in a new House of Labor Blog with other writers, and you can check that out here. And our own Ramsin Canon, SEIU organizer, has a piece on the convention at Gapers Block here.