The AFL-CIO upheaval
Surf over to Facing South. Chris Kromm has an excellent post on the ongoing fallout at the AFL-CIO and its impact on the region, as the union braces for a split in its ranks. The Service Employees International Union, with 1.8 million members, and the Teamsters and United Food and Commercial Workers International unions, which have roughly 1.4 million members each will boycott the national convention.
Yesterday, the Change To Win coalition of insurgents, led by Andy Stern of the Service Employees International Union, announced they were boycotting the gathering, which marks the beginning of the final chapter of the AFL-CIO as we know it.
Make no mistake — the implications of these events, especially for labor in the South, are potentially huge. Perhaps more than any region, there’s a desperate need for a new vision for labor in the South, one that grapples with a host of difficult challenges: the decimation of textiles and other staples of the old manufacturing economy, a hostile anti-union climate, the rise of new immigrant populations, persistent poverty and underdevelopment in the African-American “black belt,” and so on.
A labor movement which takes the call to “Organize the South” seriously would be an historic and welcome development — over the last 50 years, there have only been two concerted, broad-scale efforts to organize in the region: Operation Dixie, the CIO’s massive post-WWII drive, and the late-60s/early-70s insurgencies by the United Mine Workers (think “Harlan County, USA“) and textile workers (“Norma Rae“), both of which the Institute was intimately involved in. Any attempt to revitalize labor in the South will have to use innovative approaches and find new points of leverage in the union-hostile region, which requires resources and a willingness to take risks not in abundant supply in the movement today.
Go read the rest. This upheaval, while a good thing for stagnant unions overall (membership has dropped like a rock), is probably causing some serious Dem leadership headaches, as the AFL-CIO has been a foundation for fundraising and providing get-out-the-vote person power in election cycles. Anything that threatens to up-end that will be an interesting problem for the party to address.
It’s a safe bet that many blue collar, union and non-union workers at this point vote GOP, even if they don’t like “The Man”. It’s because the wingnuts and the Rove machine have convinced them that the “family” is undersiege by the godless, homo-loving Dems, and that W is a guy you’d like to have a beer with.
Same thing with black pastors being bought off and homophobia being cultivated by the Right in the black community. Dems are just letting it happen because they think these groups have no other party to turn to. Wrong. They will leave or just stay home.
Shakes Sis also weighs in.