A.F.L.-C.I.O. Has Plan to Add Millions of Nonunion Members

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/07/business/afl-cio-has-plan-to-add-millions-of-nonunion-members.html

Published: September 6, 2013

Richard L. Trumka, the president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., has a bold plan to reverse organized labor’s long slide: let millions of nonunion workers — and perhaps environmental, immigrant and other advocacy groups — join the labor federation.

When the labor federation holds its convention in Los Angeles beginning on Sunday, he will ask its delegates for a green light to pursue these ambitious reforms. Needless to say, some within the labor movement view them as heretical.

Mr. Trumka says he believes that if unions are having a hard time increasing their ranks, they can at least restore their clout by building a broad coalition to advance a worker-friendly political and economic agenda. He has called for inviting millions of nonunion workers into the labor movement even if their own workplaces are not unionized. Not stopping there, he has proposed making progressive groups — like the NAACP; the Sierra Club; the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic civil rights group; and MomsRising, an advocacy group for women’s and family issues — either formal partners or affiliates of the A.F.L.-C.I.O.

“The crisis for labor has deepened,” Mr. Trumka said in an interview. “It’s at a point where we really must do something differently. We really have to experiment.”

By crisis, he means myriad setbacks, including a steady loss of union membership, frequent defeats in organizing drives and unions being forced to accept multiyear wage freezes. Not only have labor leaders faced the embarrassing enactment of anti-union legislation in onetime labor strongholds like Wisconsin and Michigan, but they could not even win passage of legislation making it easier to unionize when President Obama was elected and the Democrats controlled the House and Senate.

In language far different from decades past — when labor often talked with ‘we’ll get it done ourselves’ bravado — Mr. Trumka said: “It’s pretty obvious to all of our progressive partners that none of us can do it alone. If we’re going to change the political and economic environment, it’s going to take us all working together.”

Gary N. Chaison, an industrial relations professor at Clark University, said: “Unions are thrashing around looking for answers. It just might prove successful from the very fact that there is great desperation to it. There’s a sense that this is make-or-break time for labor. Either major things are done, or it will be too late to resuscitate the labor movement.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/07/business/afl-cio-has-plan-to-add-millions-of-nonunion-members.html

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