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OfflineCatalysis
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Registered: 04/23/02
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Union Leaders Scramble to Reverse Losses
    #4172168 - 05/13/05 08:33 PM (12 years, 2 months ago)

What do you think is the reason for the steadily declining interest in joining unions?..The "the single-greatest organizing tool on the left side of the political spectrum."


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WASHINGTON - Divided and desperate, union leaders are looking everywhere ? from Ivy League classrooms to the "megachurch" pulpits of far-flung suburbia ? for ways to reverse a 50-year decline in membership that is tipping the balance of power in politics.

Labor's woes are a threat to the Democratic Party, because unions are the single-greatest organizing tool on the left side of the political spectrum. "If we can't reverse course, the future is very, very bleak," said Harold Ickes, an influential Democrat and labor ally.

Organized labor is at a tipping point, buffeted by economic, political and social shifts that make it harder to recruit new members. Under the leadership of John Sweeney, the AFL-CIO has maintained its political might despite the nosedive in membership, but few union or party leaders believe that organized labor can cling to relevancy unless it changes with the times.

The question is how to adapt. The AFL-CIO, a federation of 57 unions formed at the peak of labor's powers 50 years ago, is in danger of breaking apart in a dispute over strategies.

The federation's largest partner, 1.8 million-member Service Employees International Union, is threatening to bolt unless the AFL-CIO commits to a dramatic reorganization. The SEIU wants the AFL-CIO to cut its budget by more than 50 percent and use the savings to increasing organizing by its member unions.

Sweeney, facing a tough re-election bid this summer, says he's done plenty to increase membership since 1995 ? and pledges to do more.

"The infighting couldn't come at a worse time for them, or for Democrats," said Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic consultant with deep ties to labor. "It's bad for the Democrat Party to have labor leaders fighting each other instead of helping us win."

The feud is part of a drumbeat of bad news for labor.

_ The AFL-CIO laid off 167 employees this month as part of Sweeney's plan to increase spending on union membership drives.

_ The
Labor Department warned labor not to use money from pension funds to lobby against
President Bush's proposal to overhaul
Social Security, and suggested that unions were being closely watched for potential wrongdoing.

_ A federal bankruptcy judge approved United Airlines' plan to terminate its employees' pension plans. The ruling could impact pensions in other industries, labor officials said, undermining one of the key selling points of a union.

_ About 14 percent of voters in last fall's elections said they were union members, down from 16 percent in 2000. About two-thirds said they voted for Democratic candidate
John Kerry, matching similar support for
Al Gore in 2000, despite a twofold increase in union spending.

The worse news is old news: The unionized portion of the U.S. work force has dropped from 32.5 percent in the mid-1950s to 12 percent.

Labor leaders cite many reasons for the decline: The global economy, trade agreements, the shift from an industrial-based to a technology-based economy, poor enforcement of labor laws, and Republican tax policies that squeeze middle-class incomes.

Harvard professor Robert Putnam, author of "Bowling Alone," said labor's membership declines coincided with the steep drop in all community and civic activities starting in the 1960s. Once part of a worker's social network ? with crowded union halls and other activities ? organized labor now has a purely transactional relationship with workers. "They're merely bargaining agents," Putnam said.

He suggests that union leaders look at fast-growing churches, where leaders give worshippers a higher purpose and small-group communities ? valued commodities in exurbia, where virtually everybody is new to the neighborhood. Labor needs to fill that social capital void, too, he said.

Service Employees International Union President Andrew Stern's leadership team recently traveled to Harvard to develop new strategies and hear Putnam's pitch. Their reading list for the three-day meeting included "Jesus Christ Superflock," a Mother Jones article about the organizational strength of megachurches.

"Megachurches have done an incredible job of helping people find a sense of community," Stern said. "Churches changed in recent years to be a lot more welcoming ? more welcoming than the labor movement."

Steve Rosenthal, a Democratic consultant and former AFL-CIO political director, said labor leaders need to "think outside the box" and change along with society. Rosenthal, like his friend Stern, admires the tactics of megachurch leaders.

"I was struck by how much they have done to make the church the center of the community and how union halls were at one time much the center of the community," he said.

A frustrated Ickes said he knows labor needs to change, he's just not sure how.

"Business has reorganized itself to meet the global competition, but labor is still back in the old industrial economy mind-set, when they were sheltered by two oceans and had no competition" Ickes said with a sigh. "Those are nice generalities. If you press me beyond that, I don't know what to say."


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InvisibleGabbaDj
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Re: Union Leaders Scramble to Reverse Losses [Re: Catalysis]
    #4172640 - 05/13/05 10:31 PM (12 years, 2 months ago)

Quote:

What do you think is the reason for the steadily declining interest in joining unions?..The "the single-greatest organizing tool on the left side of the political spectrum."




Youve never been part of a union have you? Ever tried to get a skilled union job?

FUCK unions.. I was a union member for 8 years, I gave more than $9,000 to the UFCW and for what?

NOTHING.

If you want me to school you on why unions are no longer usefull then prepair for butt loads of info.


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GabbaDj

FAMM.ORG          C8.com                    http://www.beatsopjefiets.com/   


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OfflineCatalysis
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Registered: 04/23/02
Posts: 1,742
Last seen: 9 years, 25 days
Re: Union Leaders Scramble to Reverse Losses [Re: GabbaDj]
    #4172649 - 05/13/05 10:34 PM (12 years, 2 months ago)

Actually I was in the grocery baggers union when i was 16. I made minimum wage with no benefits and I had to pay $50 a month union dues.

edit: lol, that wasn't meant to sound like im a union veteran, it was just a ridiculous piece of info.


Edited by Catalysis (05/13/05 10:36 PM)


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Offlinezappaisgod
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Registered: 02/11/04
Posts: 81,741
Loc: Fractallife's gym
Last seen: 1 year, 1 month
Re: Union Leaders Scramble to Reverse Losses [Re: GabbaDj]
    #4172654 - 05/13/05 10:36 PM (12 years, 2 months ago)

"He suggests that union leaders look at fast growing churches." Most likely place to find gullible pigeons.


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OfflineCatalysis
EtherealEngineer

Registered: 04/23/02
Posts: 1,742
Last seen: 9 years, 25 days
Re: Union Leaders Scramble to Reverse Losses [Re: zappaisgod]
    #4172678 - 05/13/05 10:41 PM (12 years, 2 months ago)

Thats actually what i found most interesting in the article.

Stern said.. "Churches changed in recent years to be a lot more welcoming ? more welcoming than the labor movement."

When the fuck were unions competing against churches?
Since when is the labor movement trying to sell something? Did I miss something?


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Offlinezappaisgod
horrid asshole

Registered: 02/11/04
Posts: 81,741
Loc: Fractallife's gym
Last seen: 1 year, 1 month
Re: Union Leaders Scramble to Reverse Losses [Re: Catalysis]
    #4173911 - 05/14/05 10:29 AM (12 years, 2 months ago)

Look at clips of oldtime worker and American communist party rallies and listen to the rhetoric and you will notice that there is a stunningly "religious" fervor attached. Similar tactics are used to attract the masses in both.


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