posted August 8, 2013
Will US Unions Restructure to Add Community Organizations?

On August 8, my radio show, ALTERNATIVE VISIONS, on the Progressive Radio Network, interviewed 3 long-time union officers and activists (Steve Early, Zach Robinson, Jim Moran) in Richmond, CA, Greenville, North Carolina, and Philadelphia respectively, about AFLCIO President, Richard Trumka’s, announcement that the AFLCIO, the major union federation in the US, was in discussions with national community organizations like the NAACP, La Raza, Sierra Club to discuss allowing membership of community organizations directly into the AFL-CIO. As reported in the US press, the decision on including community organizations as federation members is scheduled for consideration at the upcoming September 2013 convention of the AFL-CIO.

According to a recent article in the July 27 Wall St. Journal, the potential organizational change will include granting community groups “decision making power� within the AFLCIO.

Dr. Jack Rasmus and guests discuss the strategic significance of the possible decision and organizational change at the top level of the AFL-CIO, raising the question: Is this a major shift in the AFL-CIO and American Union Movement that portends greater cooperative action between organized Labor in the US and community groups? Or is it just a fascade for cooperating on lobbying and electing Democrats in the 2014 midterm elections?

American unions are in deep trouble today. In 2012-13, nearly 2 million jobs were created—albeit mostly part time and temp jobs at low pay. But union jobs declined at more than 500,000 in 2012. Weekly earnings of American workers continue to decline yearly. Union defined benefit pensions continue to disappear as businesses convert them to phony 401k plans under the cover of fake corporate bankruptcies. The crisis in Detroit shows the practice is now spreading to the public sector. Union negotiated health insurance plans are under direct attack as well, as Obama’s health care law proposes a ‘tax’ of 40% on such covered plans by 2018 and employers have already launched an offensive to ‘cap’ all contributions to negotiated health plans in anticipation of the tax. Right to work anti-union laws are being pushed at state levels. Union labor may well disappear as we know it in another decade.

Jack’s guests will discuss not only the proposed changes in Union-Community cooperation by the ‘top level’ suggested by the possible changes at the coming AFL-CIO convention, but also developments at the local level in labor-community alliances and action in their geographic areas—in California, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.

The interviews and discussion, on Dr. Rasmus’ Alternative Visions radio show, may be heard at: http://alternativevisions.podbean.com now. (And subsequently on the Progressive Radio Network, now undergoing server maintenance).

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