The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Labor Groups Close to Deal on State, Local Cooperation

by Brendan Coyne

Oct. 20, 2005 – The split in organized labor’s ranks spurred when prominent unions left the AFL-CIO and formed a new coalition appears to be lessening, as the two sides last week signaled their willingness and desire to reach a working agreement on state and local levels.

Friday, the AFL-CIO and the Change to Win (CTW) coalition both released statements agreeing in principle to a plan that will allow members of the breakaway group to continue working with state AFL-CIO bodies and regional labor organizations.

The proposed Solidarity Charters would allow members of nonaffiliated AFL-CIO unions to participate in virtually all aspects of Central Labor Council and state AFL-CIO bodies, including running for and holding elective office. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney’s initial plan had precluded such participation and was immediately attacked by CTW unions as undemocratic and unworkable.

As part of the new agreement, participating CTW locals would contribute a yet-to-be decided payment to the national AFL-CIO, Sweeney said in Friday’s statement. The federation has pushed back a decision on the issue until the middle of November.

Terming recent discussion with the AFL-CIO "positive," CTW Chair Anna Berger said: "We are hopeful that an agreement will happen soon, especially now that the AFL-CIO recognizes the right of Change to Win members to run for and hold office in state and local bodies. We look forward to further productive discussions in the weeks ahead to resolve financial issues."

The official affirmation comes about even as local unions belonging to both groups have maintained working relationships with one another and largely avoided bringing their leaders’ disputes to bear in day-to-day operations.

Last month, two long-time rival unions, the Service Employees International Union, another CTW founder, and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, which remains in the AFL-CIO, announced a deal to end cross-union raiding and cooperatively represent home-healthcare workers in California and Pennsylvania. Their deal came a week after CTW member International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the AFL-CIO affiliate Communication Workers of America reached a deal to jointly represent workers at two merging airlines.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Brendan Coyne is a contributing journalist.

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