AFL-CIO’s officers have made their recommendations for strengthening union organizing and political mobilization. “Winning for Working Families” is a 26-page document setting out proposals by President Sweeney, Secretary-Treasurer Trumka, and Executive Vice President Chavez-Thompson. They would create a $22.5 million organizing fund, $7.5 million of which would be used to assist “strategic” organizing campaigns such as those targeting Wal-Mart, Comcast, Federal Express and Toyota. Another $7.5 million would be directed to political mobilization that would focus on pro-union legislative actions at federal, state and local levels. In a press briefing on April 28, officials from five unions that represent 5 million of the AFL-CIO’s 13 million members issued a joint statement to the effect that the proposals do not go far enough, assuring a controversial convention this summer. Note: The AFL-CIO has also announced a “re-structuring” that will eliminate 167 jobs, but create 61 new positions in “organizing and member mobilization” functions. The Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild represents most AFL-CIO employees.
The “win rate” for labor unions participating in NLRB elections increased once more in 2004. Despite continuing union protests that NLRB secret ballot election procedures are unfair and “card checks” should replace them, 2004 marked the eighth straight year that union election “win” percentages have improved. Research findings by BNA PLUS show the Teamsters was the most active union, and its 2004 win rate increased to 47.6 percent. Among all other AFL-CIO members, the unions received majority votes in 925 of 1,552 NLRB elections, 59.6 percent, compared with 59.8 percent in 2003, when fewer elections were held. The Service Employees International Union held the second-highest number of elections, followed in order by the United Food and Commercial Workers, Operating Engineers, and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
Service Employees International Union has been extremely successful in organizing state employees or state contractors engaged in home care. The Michigan Employment Relations Commission recently certified an SEIU local union for some 41,000 home care workers following mail balloting. They work throughout the state as independent providers, paid with Medicaid dollars, assisting more than 50,000 seniors and persons with disabilities in such tasks as cooking, bathing, dressing, cleaning, administering medications and transportation. According to SEIU, most of the home care workers are paid at minimum wage, and many do not have health insurance or retirement savings. Similarly, an SEIU local in Illinois has recently won a mail-ballot election authorizing it to represent 49,000 Illinois home child-care workers, many in “foster” parent roles. The election was made possible through an Executive Order signed by the Governor. SEIU is said to now represent some 370,000 home care workers in California, Oregon, Washington, Illinois and New York. Campaigns are currently underway in Maryland, Massachusetts, Iowa and Wisconsin.
Nominees to fill vacancies on the five-member NLRB are Dennis P. Walsh (Democrat) and Ronald Meisburg (Republican). Both have previously served as members, and their presence on the Board will retain the 3/2 political alignment traditionally favoring the incumbent president’s party. Current members are Liebman (D), Schaumber (R) and Chairman Battista (R). Both nominees will require Senate confirmation. It is likely that Senate Republicans will seek renewal of the terms of Schaumber and General Counsel Rosenfeld, which are soon to expire.
Teamsters International Officer elections for 2006 will again be supervised under terms of the 1989 Consent Decree between the federal government and the Union, which resolved racketeering charges. The Union’s hope of achieving an end to coverage under the decree was set back upon the resignation last year of its own internal watchdog, Edwin Stier, and his entire staff. Steir asserted that General President James P. Hoffa was not serious about ending corruption – pointing to his refusal to take action against certain Chicago locals and individuals who are said to be strong Hoffa supporters. The Election Supervisor is to be attorney Richard W. Mark from New York, and the Election Appeals Master is once again Kenneth Conboy, another New York attorney. The Consent Decree is administered by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Elections arrangements are to follow the same rules and practices observed in elections supervised in 1996 and 2001. Ballots will go out in October 2006, and will be counted by mid-November.