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American Federation of Labor and Congress

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Even though dissident unions pulled out of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, there is still some fight left. Labor leaders expected the 2008 presidential election to bring in new administration that would ease union organizing whose fall was blamed on the AFL-CIO President, John Sweeney. The union membership had fallen from 39% in 1958 to less that 8% in 2005 and Sweeney was blamed for failing to restructure or address competition due to his loyalty to cronies. In his view, Sweeney argued that just by changing labour laws, there would be labor renaissance. Before the convention, Sweeney and his supporters argued that the rift in AFL-CIO was over the president’s succession.

The anticipated breakup never happened since a day prior to the convention, leaders of four unions boycotted the SIEU meeting. The rift saw AFL-CIO remain with only 55 members. Today, experts claim that the split was a furry about nothing since there is nothing that Change to Win (CTW) can show for. Both AFL-CIO and CTW have tried new ways such as corporate campaigns to gain more members with no success; meaning that workers no longer find resonance in unions’ words. Many agree that had there been no split; there would be more accessible forums to resolve differences. Both camps seem to borrow a lot from each other, especially in form of tactics and strategies to have sector-wide influences.

Organizers from both camps are much smarter today due to better recruitment strategies and affiliates campaigns. The researchers for both camps are using competitor analysis to target workforces. Both camps are using corporate campaigns to make employers sign neutrality agreements which deter employers from campaigning against the union. Very few employers agree to this since as experts have advised, it can cripple managerial flexibility. However, corporations that have dirty laundry, agree to join the unions with no argument in fear of being exposed.

Prospects improved after the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act in 2007. The Act is expected to improve union organization by eliminating right of employers to demand for secret-ballot election before certification of the union; increasing financial fines for any unfair labor practices, enabling arbiter to inflict contract if parties do not agree; and making employers to maintain neutrality during cases. The passing of EFCA would be the most significant pro-labor legislation in over two decades.

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