Mar. 4, 2005 – Tensions within the AFL-CIO heightened on Wednesday when the labor federationâ€™s leaders voted against a proposal to cut in half individual unionsâ€™ contributions to the federation. The proposal would have allowed local unions to devote more resources to organizing.
The vote, which occurred during the AFL-CIOâ€™s winter meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, came amidst the threat by the federationâ€™s largest union, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), to leave the federation if fundamental changes are not made.
The unions supporting the measure said they hope to eventually pass the proposal, and hinted at a leadership challenge to AFL-CIO president John J. Sweeney, who had proposed a cut of 17 percent in individual unionâ€™s contributions. Sweeney favors spending more funds on supporting pro-labor politicians and legislation. The five unions backing the 50 percent cut say local unions are desperate for more organizing money to reverse the decline of organized labor and shake up what they say is the AFL-CIOâ€™s more bureaucratic strategy.
"The current debate is not about dollars," James P. Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, who backs proposed increases in labor organizing funds, told the New York Times. "It is about a vision of the future of the American labor movement."