The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Umbrella Labor Groups Near Deal on Local Cooperation

by Brendan Coyne

Nov. 18, 2005 – A contentious discussion between the nation’s largest organized labor groups over the substance and practice of cooperating at the state and local levels appears closer to a resolution this week after both groups announced that national leaders had reached a tentative agreement for implementing the plan.

In separate statements released Wednesday, the AFL-CIO and the recently formed Change to Win (CTW) Coalition, hailed the agreement on Solidarity Charters as vital to the labor movement’s solidarity.

"Solidarity Charters will enable the labor movement to remain united at the local level where everyone wanted to stick together," AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said. "Local unions will be able to continue working together to advance the interests of working families in organizing campaigns, strikes, boycotts and political activities, and that’s a real plus for our movement."

Negotiations over the charters have been going on since shortly after several of the CTW founding unions opted to leave the AFL-CIO this summer and early fall. In disaffiliating from the federation, the dissident unions created dissension and confusion at state and local levels, though CTW maintained all along that it intended to work with all unions, regardless of their affiliation.

"Change to Win has always encouraged our local affiliates to participate in state and local bodies, and the fact is that they have continued to do so in the absence of an agreement at the national level," CTW Chair Anna Berger said in Wednesday’s statement. "This protocol for participation that we’ve now agreed to nationally explicitly approves of what had been happening all along."

This fall, member unions of both groups brokered their own operating agreements, leading the way for the national bodies.

In September, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Communications Workers of America announced a deal to represent workers at the merging US Airways and America West Airlines. The same month, Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees agreed to cooperatively represent workers in California and Pennsylvania and end a long-standing practice of "raiding" – or cross-recruiting – one another’s members.

News of the imminent Solidarity Charter agreement comes a little over a month after the AFL-CIO and CTW announced initial terms of the deal, which would allow non-AFL-CIO affiliated unions to participate fully in nearly all aspects of both state branches of the federation and Central Labor Councils (CLCs) in exchange for agreeing to pay an undisclosed per capita membership fee.

A key portion of the agreement would allow CTW members to stand for election in state and area AFL-CIO bodies. Neither organization released full details about implementing the Solidarity Charters.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Brendan Coyne is a contributing journalist.

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