LABOR PRIMER….Harold Meyerson has a terrific article in the Prospect this month about the internal labor wars currently engulfing the AFL-CIO:
Labor ? all wings of labor ? has been moving slowly toward a collective Wal-Mart strategy for some time now, particularly since the UFCW, which would have jurisdiction, plainly stated that organizing the behemoth is beyond its capacity. The one union leader who has been calling for such a campaign for years is [UNITE-HERE chief John] Wilhelm. ?There are clearly some seminal campaigns, important to society as a whole, that no one union can do on its own,? he recently told me. ?Wal-Mart cries out for an AFL-CIO approach.? For starters, Wilhelm and his fellow dissident presidents suggest that the federation devote its $25 million a year in credit-card royalties to a long-term Wal-Mart organizing campaign ? a proposal that [current AFL-CIO president John] Sweeney has not embraced.
….If Wilhelm and unity do not prevail, what then? [Andy Stern’s] SEIU will surely secede; whether by itself or with others is as yet unclear. ?Under the right circumstances, everyone would be ready to go with SEIU,? says one dissident leader. But those circumstances would involve a mass secession, and it?s not clear how many unions are willing to initiate that game of chicken.
….Even if the SEIU goes off all by itself, many union ofﬁcials believe that, in the words of one, ?a Hobbesian world [will be] created.? Some fear that the SEIU?s vaunted organizing machine will ﬁght other unions for new, and maybe current, members ? fears Stern takes pains to allay. ?Our intention is not to start a war,? he says. ?We?d work with the AFL-CIO on everything that makes sense. We have no intention to start any campaign where an AFL-CIO union is already organized. But if somebody goes against us? God help the union that picks that ﬁght.?
Check out the whole thing. It’s a great primer on what the current battles are all about.