Skip to comments.Why Did the AFL-CIO Self-Destruct?
Posted on 08/08/2005 6:12:56 PM PDT by betty boop
Why Did the AFL-CIO Self-Destruct?
The 96th Convention of the American Federation of Musicians a unit of the AFL-CIO gathered in Las Vegas July 17-20. I wasnt there; but I have seen the write-up of the public meetings described in International Musician, the flagship periodical of the AFM.
I wanted to file a report on these proceedings. So in the interest of full disclosure, I need to give some background here. My husband has been a member of the AFM since he was 16 years old; but then hes a fulltime working musician, and having a union card can make life go more smoothly. I was a long-time member, until five years ago, when I couldnt stand it anymore and quit in disgust. What I couldnt stand was the way the union was being co-opted by political interests that tended to resonate with the Left Progressive wing of the Democrat party. Or so I thought then. And still do, as it turns out. The problem seems only to have grown worse in the last five years.
But be your own judge of that, dear reader.
The great theme of the Convention seems to have been HEALING. Let me present a numbered list of the main business before the General Assembly at the Convention. As Marcia Schweitzer writes [for IM August 2005]:
(1) The two years since the 2003 Convention saw increased discord and erosion of trust among several segments of our membership [e.g., between AFM and certain other closely-related unions that have long-standing contractual relations with AFM].
(2) Skipping over a lot of internal business (i.e., internal politicking), other actions of note included passage of a resolution calling for a North American boycott of the anti-union Blue Man Group .
which has been staunchly refusing to bargain with any unions in any of the cities in which it performs. A strong coalition of the Toronto Musicians Association and the Canadian Actors Equity Association, and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) has been holding firm in its boycott and public education campaign in Toronto, causing much bad press and mediocre ticket sales for the Blue Man Group there. This resolution urges all AFM members and locals to spread the boycott across North America.
(3) Next item: Another passed resolution, to bring our troops home from Iraq as expeditiously as possible, elicited some of the most passionate and profound oratory on the Convention floor.
Some delegates spoke against the resolution as unpatriotic or against the troops. However, several delegates who had attended parts of the Iraqi Labor Tour spoke of the need to support workers in Iraq by ending the occupation and restoring true sovereignty. Other delegates brought up concerns about the siphoning off of billions of dollars of taxpayer money from social programs and support for the arts to line the pockets of multinational corporations. One delegate, a veteran of the Korean War, spoke movingly of his experience as a young soldier and of the ongoing effects of the horrors he witnessed. 'I only wish,' he said, that people back home had tried to get me out of there, too.
(4) Continuing on, In response to one delegates questioning [the AFM] getting involved outside music, International Officer Ken Shirk pointed to the tradition of unions, particularly the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), using their clout to make political statements, sometimes effecting beneficial outcomes almost single-handed. This was perhaps the most provocative statement on the power of unionism in the whole convention. [Note to reader: the most recent ILWU dispute basically was about maintaining $120+K annual salaries, plus benefits, for the people who offload ships in U.S. ports. ILWU won. I cant figure out why . To put that into perspective, think about the typical annual salaries that school teachers earn....]
Alas, it seems that, for all his incisiveness and profundity, Mr. Shirk lost his re-election to the International Executive Board of the AFM at this convention. [I have actually met this person. I do not mourn his loss .]
SO, to return to our original question, Why Did the AFL-CIO Self-Destruct? A couple of weeks ago, the SEIU and the Teamsters peeled off. My suspicion is that their leaderships are no longer willing to settle for the wardheeler style of leadership of AFL-CIOs John Sweeney. But even more than that, I think SEIU/Teamsters realize that union bosses like Sweeney have abandoned the classical union model: Which requires the leadership to serve the actual, direct interests of their members. What people may be catching onto today is that the union model has changed in recent times. Now, local boards, and international leadership, think their job is to hire on the right politicians to do the job of looking after the interests of the membership for them. Which is a joke: If you make a deal with the devil, count on it: hes not working for YOU; YOU are working for HIM.
And IMHO, that is why SEIU and Teamsters two huge sectors of the triumvirate that had up till now constituted organized labor in the United States and Canada have split from AFL-CIO.
Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi must be having fits over this in private, of course.
Its probably obvious that I have a point of view here, but Ive tried to keep it down to a dull roar. What Im mainly interested in here is: What do you, dear reader, think about these potentially momentous developments? (That might possibly affect the Democrat partys pocketbook in a very serious way before too long? Does that mean that the Hollyweird crowd increasingly must pay the freight for its candidates, going forward?)
Just a little change of pace, if anyone's up for it....
It's a good development, because it's bad for the dems; but I'm not up for discussing it. Don't know enough about unions.
And I love your FR name....
I just love classical Jimi Hendrix music...
I've been a union member, and have always been dis-satisfied with the Union being engaged in politics, always supporting a party I could not stomach, and forcing me to pay dues to the union for it to turn around and give to some Jerk who wanted to tax me more.
I've also had strict orders from my shop steward not to produce that extra pallett of product for the company when I finished my "quota" early. This for a company I owned Stock in, as well as worked for.
Unions have LONG ago lost any pretense of being for the Little Guy, and are some of the most corrupt organizations in America.
And it shows, Union membership is at rock bottom.
I can only hope the individual unions breaking away from AFL-CIO will take heed of their memberships wishes, and leave the political crap out of it.
It seems logical the Teamsters would be among the first to notice that they'd hitched their wagon to a stump.
And I thought you were a lawyer, with a passing interest in Constitutional Law.
Sing it with me, from School House Rock:
We the People
in order to form a more perfect Union...
I am a Union member and have disagreed with their political alignments for a long time. After the 2000 election our members were polled anomyously about why membership was divided by not showing a strong pro- Gore vote.
The results.......gun control was a biggie. Most of our members are avid hunters and shooting enthusiasts and did not trust Gore potentially tampering with the 2nd Amendment.
Abortion. Pretty much self explanatory about the divide between religious views.
Now since the union's candidate Kerry was defeated soundly in 2004 the leadership, at least in our union (BAC) our leaders are seeking out labor friendly candidates rather than following party lines. There has been a division in the membership because endorsing party elections has not helped the cause of labor. It has been recognized that particular candidates, rather than particular partys can do more for protecting good paying jobs, benefits, and job safety than partys that cannot be elected. it has been acknowledged that there are good candidates on both sides of the aisle.
Organized labor recognizes that if America is to survive, we cannot export jobs, we cannot work for less, and we have to have medical insurance and pensions. Allowing any or all of those issues to be discontinued and America will begin a slide to be equalized with the 3rd world when it comes to our standard of living.
There are those who think Union workers make too much. But the flip side of the coin says lawyers and doctors and pro athletes and CEO's and stockbrokers make too much also. As Americans we all have to get along and patronize our companies and businesses and pass the money around. Someone will always be overpaid and someone will always be underpaid. But the people who earn enough to own a house and a car, send a son to college, seek medical care without the hospital owning the house are the backbone of America.
Being pro labor and pro worker is a good thing. As Americans, United We Stand, divided we fall. Same with Union workers. If we let others dictate how much money they think we should make we will never prosper. If we do good work and have a good work ethic we should be justly rewarded the same as if we do shoddy work be reprimanded.
The free market decides value, not politicians.
These free trade agreements like CAFTA and the WTO and NAFTA stifle competition and set arbitrary limits on wages and productivity. High oil prices are hurting us all. The middle class cost of living wage increases in America is not keeping pace with inflation. And since most Union workers are middle class Americans we are neither robbing the bank or collecting welfare. But to hear some people scream that Union workers are making too much money is bulls*hit. It seems to be vogue to accuse workers of breaking the bank. Forget Enron and Global Crossing and Tyco and unscrupulous accounting fraud and how much that costs America.
Yes the times are a changing. America is going to meet the 3rd world and we all will lose, except the filthy rich who will still have their nest egg and the influence it buys.
They are self destructing because leadership no longer represents the "total" of the membership....
While there are still plenty of diehard died in the wool leftists in the ranks....there are plenty of libertarian minded and even a few conservatives....
A lot of vets are union guys....and they dont like the venom being spewed at the troops..OR the commander and chief...
I would remind people of that 2004 UAW vote for political endorsement...
Bush came in SECOND....IE..he beat 8 of the dems hands down...
Trust me...such a thing is HUGE...
A lot of us are pushing for our unions to be NON-political in matters that dont directly effect workers...
And remember please....not all unions are created equal....
It might surprise some to find out that my local has a no strike clause in our contract...becuase interuption of major projects and literally put a contractor out of bussiness...and thus..workers out of work...
Shoddy Electrical work kills people....bad workers are shown the door...we maintian high standards and expect people to meet them...I Maintain 3 state licenses and several OSHA recognized licenses for heavy equipment operation including Forklift , all terrain forklift ,articulated booms and lifts...
Remember...the bedrock of this country was set by union men and women...we do...
You can hire someone who barely speaks english ,if at all...or you can hire someone who will re-invest in America and American products...
You get what you pay for...
Now if we could only get the teachers union to follow the same damn example...because the next time they hold my local town hostage for double digit raises...I'll cross the picket myself...
Member in good standing, local 8 , International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)...Closet conservative...
Me, too brivette. "All Along the Watchtower" and "Hey Joe" really stir me up....
From your lips to God's ear, konaice!
Thank you so much for writing!
I suppose that is a possibility, o_zarkman44. Still, something tells me it will not be actually realized. There's too much "common sense" in the world for that to happen.
Thank you so very much for your plain-spoken, "common sense" testimony regarding the present issue.
From your lips to God's ear, Crim! Thank you so very much for your true and excellent insights, from "inside" the IBEW! May God ever bless you.
Yes, to what you said. Unions are NECESSARY when you have BAD Management....that's why they were started......and we still, in some cases, have BAD Management.....BUT, when union bosses get the money THEY GET, and play politics with the workers money, THAT'S BAD MANAGEMENT, too.
(I'm a former HR Management type)
The plain truth is that the unions are the members and not the leadership, and when, in any political organization, the leadership forgets this, the members tend to remind them in precisely this fashion. "When, in the course of human events..."
"I'm just a bill
I'm just a bill
And I'm sittin' here on Capitol Hill"
No Clinton jokes, please...
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.