Randy Shaw: Since January 2009, SEIU has spent millions in two campaigns against rival unions. Its campaign against UNITE HERE has alienated virtually the entire labor movement, effectively destroyed the Change to Win Labor Federation, worsened SEIU’s budget problems, and achieved none of the hoped-for membership gains – yet SEIU’s raids against UNITE HERE continue.
Randy Shaw: The absence of labor reporters is a symptom of a larger media trend that now sees union activism and elections as deserved only of local coverage, while corporate news wins national attention. So the New York Times reports on Disney’s public relations event in Orlando, Florida is reported by, while UNITE HERE’s far more newsworthy event at Disneyland gets only local press.
Berry Craig: I’ve never heard of a real corporate executive who had a conscience attack and sided with workers at a plant he or she was about to downsize or shut. I don’t know of any members of Local 665 who have found better jobs than the ones they had at the factory.
Randy Shaw: As the midterm elections approach, progressives face a critical choice: either spend resources now on funding organizers who can win real change in 2010, or invest in the November elections to set the stage for 2011. The choice should be clear.
Berry Craig: The union-haters must still be in hog heaven over an AFL-CIO-sponsored poll that showed most Massachusetts union households supported Republican Scott Brown over union-endorsed Democrat Martha Coakley in the special election to succeed the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.
Randy Shaw: In the Beltway, the Obama Administration frustrated key constituency groups and organizations by failing to push for transformative change. In the world where most people live and work, activists were not deterred by Obama’s inaction and instead seized upon the “Si Se Puede” spirit to build successful campaigns for justice.
Joseph Palermo: If the Democrats go into the 2010 midterm elections without passing concrete measures that move the pendulum back toward labor and away from corporate domination it will remind voters that the Democratic Party is still the party of Mondale, Dukakis, Gore-Lieberman, Carter, Clinton, and Kerry. These guys can ride in tanks, say they love guns and the death penalty, call for deregulating business and slashing welfare, or salute and say “reporting for duty” — but they’re still a bunch of hapless losers.
lthough the odds for the passage of EFCA seem long today despite a Democratic majority in Congress and a Democratic president, the importance of EFCA should not be forgotten. In mid-2009, many of America’s labor historians signed a statement that strongly endorsed the act. This was a good beginning. Going forward, all of us who are committed to social justice should do what we can to support passage of EFCA in the immediate future.
With the Democratic Party needing union money and volunteers for the November 2010 elections, it will have to start delivering for labor soon. This means that Congress will enact some changes in union election rules, though expedited elections rather than card check appears to be where the debate is headed.
The week of Thanksgiving offers the perfect opportunity for us to give thanks and appreciation for those in 2009 who have worked for social and economic justice.
One night after withdrawing its support for the California Democratic Party and picketing progressive politicians and labor leaders in San Francisco, SEIU threw eggs at those attending an event honoring NUHW in Los Angeles.
The increasing willingness of other unions to openly back NUHW is most ominous for SEIU. It means that SEIU’s efforts to frame NUHW as a “rogue” labor organization guilty of “raiding” other unions has failed, and that the labor movement now sees NUHW as health care workers’ leading voice for democracy.
On the last day of the AFL-CIO convention, UNITE HERE President John Wilhelm announced that his union is leaving Change to Win and rejoining the AFL-CIO. The announcement, while not unexpected, will soon to followed by a similar decision by the Laborers Union, and represents a likely fatal blow to SEIU’s efforts to create a competing labor Federation.